|Tuesday, 18 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-05-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 2, 2006
 Arab leaders stress concern over Iran crisis during Papoulias visit
DOHA, 2/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Arab leaders that received Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias during official visits to Saudi Arabia and Qatar over the three-day weekend stressed their strong concern regarding the emerging crisis over Iran's nuclear program.
Diplomatic sources said that both King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, where Papoulias began his tour of Arab nations on Saturday, and Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani believe that there will be a generalized problem of instability for their region if there is a bad outcome to the issue of Iran's nuclear program.
Both countries are also convinced that a solution to the crisis must come through diplomacy and some analysts believe they are even trying to put economic pressure to bear on the United States. For example, Saudi Arabia has for the first time issued a bond loan made out in euros in a deal signed with Saudi British Bank for ¬ 325 million.
During talks in both Saudi Arabia and Qatar, President Papoulias agreed that the dangers from an escalation of the crisis over Iran would be grave and stressed that a diplomatic solution was the only solution.
The Greek president also raised issues concerning relations between Greece and Turkey, as well as Turkey's relations with the European Union, stressing that Athens was in favor of Turkey's EU accession while noting that this required fulfilling certain obligations. It was Turkey's choice whether it would respect and fulfill the obligations that were a condition of its EU accession, he added.
Papoulias also raised the issue of Cyprus, outlining the unchanged positions of the Greek and Cyprus governments.
The Greek president attaches great importance to informing Arabs regarding developments in the Cyprus issue, given that certain quarters are attempting to upgrade relations between Moslem countries and the illegal Turkish-Cypriot regime in the occupied north of Cyprus.
This was the first time that a Greek president visited these Arab states, though not first visit for Karolos Papoulias, who has friendly ties with many local politicians and state officials.
Papoulias departed from Athens on Saturday for official visits to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain before his return to Athens on May 3.
The president was accompanied by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis, Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis, Greece's Ambassador to Saudi Arabia I. Economou and several Greek government officials.
Papoulias and the Greek delegation are to remain in Qatar until Tuesday, before visiting Bahrain and concluding the tour of Arab states on Wednesday.
 Qatar: Interview by President Papoulias to Al Jazeera
DOHA, Qatar, 2/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias, in an interview he gave on Monday to the Al Jazeera television network, expressed fears that if there is not an easing in the Iran crisis, "we will find ourselves in front of a great catastrophe."
Papoulias termed the problem as "difficult" and stressed that "all should unite their forces in order for us not to sink into chaos."
The solution, he said, "should only be diplomatic and must not be worse than the problem." He also stressed that there must be insistence in the international agreement for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Referring to his visit to the region, Papoulias spoke of the particular interest which Greece always had and to the close economic, commercial and cultural bonds which link it with the region.
The Greek president also referred to Greece's efforts, as member of the European Union, for the promotion of relations between the Union and the Arab world.
Referring to the Palestinian issue, he stressed that the solution to the problem constitutes the nucleus of the solution of the broader Middle East problem. The solution, he added, is nothing else other than the existence of two independent states, with secure borders and good neighborliness with the bordering countries.
On relations between Turkey and the European Union, President Papoulias said that Greece desires the accession of the neighboring country, which, however, must fulfill the Union's prerequisites.
Papoulias also said that he did not believe in the "clash of cultures," while on terrorism, he said that "it concerns all of us" and that it is contrary to the principles of Islam. He noted that the EU's interest is the effort in combating terrorism not to harm democratic freedoms.
President Papoulias tours Arabian Peninsula countries, arrives in Qatar: President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias, on a tour of the Arabian Peninsula since Saturday, concluded an official visit to Saudi Arabia on Sunday and in the afternoon of the same day arrived in Qatar. His tour will include a stop in Bahrain before his return to Athens on May 3.
Papoulias and the Greek delegation will remain in Qatar until Tuesday, before visiting Bahrain and concluding the tour of Arab states on Wednesday.
The president is being accompanied on his tour by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis, Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis, Deputy National Economy and Finance Minister Petros Doukas and several Greek government officials.
Papoulias arrived in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Saturday and was met on his arrival by Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, the governor of Riyadh, the cabinet and members of the royal family.
On Saturday evening, Papoulias held talks with Saudi King Abdullah who bestowed a medal to the Greek president. Papoulias later attended a dinner hosted in his honor by the Saudi Monarch.
Development Minister Sioufas on Saturday also signed with Saudi Arabia's economy minister an agreement for the avoidance of double taxation in air transport, an agreement which Sioufas termed "important."
On Sunday, the Greek president visited the Consultative Council of Saudi Arabia and later toured Riyadh's enormous modern National Museum. Prior to his departure for Qatar, Papoulias attended a luncheon hosted in his honor by Defense Minister and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Sultan Bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud.
On his part, Sioufas on Sunday met with the board of the Council for Industry and Commerce, the governor of Riyadh and chairman of the Authority for Investments in Saudi Arabia, as well as with the country's Minister of State.
 Ministers satisfied with results of Papoulias visit to Arab states
DOHA, 2/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Ministers accompanying Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on a tour of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain on Monday stressed that they were fully satisfied with the results of the trip, which they described as an "absolute success". The Greek mission has so far visited Saudi Arabia and Qatar and is due in Bahrain on Tuesday.
Papoulias departed for the region on Saturday accompanied by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis, Deputy Economy Minister Petros Doukas and several Greek government officials.
Sioufas spoke of a "new era" in relations between Greece and the Arab states visited by the Greek mission and was highly optimistic about the future.
The minister said that he had stressed Greece's potential as a gateway for investments in the Balkan region, the Black Sea and the EU in talks with officials in the two countries.
On Monday, Sioufas met Qatar's premier Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani and members of Qatar's government and the two sides agreed to set up two committees to discuss matters of mutual interest, leading to the signature of bilateral agreements. Greece is interested in having Qatar supply liquefied natural gas and oil.
Two Greek-flagged newbuilt ships are currently transporting liquefied natural gas from Qatar to third countries, while another three ships are now being built.
According to Kefaloyiannis, cooperation in merchant shipping has already begun and has a good future. He said that Arabs desired cooperation with Greece and talked openly about joint investments and businesses in Greece. They also showed interest in tourism and marine tourism and were currently seeking a spot in the Ionian to build a large marina, he said.
Possible cooperation in the ports of Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Igoumenitsa and Tymbaki on Crete was another topic discussed, he added.
The Arab side has also shown great interest in the construction sector and is seeking Greek construction firms to carry out their projects, an area that the Greek ministers believe holds great potential for the sector.
Knowhow acquired by Greece through hosting the Olympic Games in food safety and electrical installations was another area of interest, since Qatar will be hosting the Asian Games.
For the Greek side, talks on cooperation in air transport held major interest since it directly concerned the ailing national carrier Olympic Airlines (OA). During talks with Doukas, it was decided that there should be cooperation between OA and Qatar Airways in areas such as marketing and joint flights.
 May Day celebrated with two separate rallies in central Athens
ATHENS, 2/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)May Day was celebrated on Monday with two separate rallies in central Athens. The first took place at Pedio tou Areos Square in Athens at 10.30 a.m. and was organized by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) and the Athens Labor Centre (EKA).
Addressing the rally as its central speaker, Athens Labor Centre President Grigoris Felonis warned that any attempt by the government to make major changes to the social insurance system would result in an "unprecedented confrontation", such as the recent trade union and youth protests in France.
Felonis also referred to the "inroads made on worker incomes" by rising prices and asked for an increase to unemployment benefit, which had remained at the same level for the past three years.
Speaking on the sidelines of the rally, ruling New Democracy (ND) Central Committee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis stressed that ND's focus was on working people and that the party was working hard to solve the many and major problems that existed in terms of unemployment.
The secretary of the Central Political Committee of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party, Nikos Houndis, expressed his party's support for those facing unemployment and high prices and for the protection of trade union rights.
He also expressed his opposition to the prospect of a new war in Iran and asked the government to withdraw a bill that he said gave NATO "suzerainty" and to not allow the use of the naval base in Souda for "new military adventures".
The second rally took place at the same time and was organized by the Greek Communist Party-affiliated labor group PAME at Ethnikis Antistasis Square and which concluded outside the U.S. Embassy.
In statements at the rally, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga said that the party sought unified action against the "barbarism of modernization and reforms and against the barbarism of the so-called globalization".
Separate rallies were also held in Thessaloniki, Macedonia.
PM Karamanlis issues May Day message: In a message on Monday on the occasion of May Day, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis expressed "the urgent need for changes and reforms through policies which guarantee security and prospects for the future" and called on "all to assume their responsibilities and obligations, through a common course towards the common stake."
In his May Day (Labor Day) message, the prime minister said:"I have the conviction that the vindication of policy passes through the confrontation of the problems and not their transfer to the future. I deeply believe that societies which do not dare are condemned to live with the problems which they inherited from the past. I know, like all Greeks, that we payed and are still paying dearly the era of timidity, of postponement and of spasmodic policies."
Karamanlis added:"Our position is to radically confront the causes of the problems. Because only in this way can a secure framework of lasting, maintainable growth and prosperity be created. Our decision is to continue steadfastly, much faster and much more decisively, the changes and reforms which we started. Because our plan is already producing tangible results, which inspire optimism and certainty for the future. Because we are winning, day by day, important objectives which lead Greece forward and benefit every citizen, every family."
The prime minister added:"We are proceeding, far from ideologies, without prejudices, dependencies and compromises. We are proceeding, with our ally the broad social alliance, the changes and reforms. We are proceeding, with criteria, the social result and the interest of the many. The road which we have to follow is lengthy and difficult. The stake, however, is common. It requires from all of us effort and insistence. It requires responsible evaluation of reality, responsible positions and the development of specific proposals. The responsibilities, obligations and challenges are for all. Let's all cross it together, united."
PASOK's message for Labor Day: In a message to mark Labor Day on May 1, main opposition PASOK on Saturday issued an announcement that called on working people to join ranks for a "new National Social Contract that will set out targets and priorities, obligations and rights for a different, hope-bringing and creative future."
In the same message, PASOK notes that the 120th anniversary of Labor Day found humanity in a climate of uncertainty in which war and military campaigns threatened. It also attributed a "climate of insecurity that predominates in the international community, in Europe and in our country," to the policies of the "neoliberal, new right political forces, the core of whose ideology and politics is occupied exclusively by markets, unrestrained competition and rampant profit-making, pushing aside conditions and rules and especially the ordinary working people and their present needs".
PASOK's announcement also slammed the government for going back on pre-election promises and adopting policies that favored the 'haves' over the 'have-nots' as well as its performance on youth unemployment and reforms that "introduced social cannibalism" and divided people along the lines of age.
Greek Communist Party message for Labor Day: The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Saturday called on the working classes to back the struggle against "plutocracy and imperialist organizations" by participating in rallies and demonstrations in a message issued by the KKE Central Committee to mark Labor Day on May 1.
Commenting on the ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK parties, KKE said that they did not represent the interests and future of the working class but supported the interests of the economic oligarchy and that all the "developmental models" they proposed were variations of the same path that led to the abolition of even fundamental rights.
It also called on working people to oppose the plans of the United States and European Union for Iran and the continuing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and the change of borders sought in the Balkans.
 Papandreou: Socialist Int'l supports diplomatic resolution for Iran
ATHENS, 2/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Socialist International President George Papandreou on Saturday appealed to all sides to avoid inflammatory statements that could escalate tension surrounding the crisis in Iran and stressed that the SI wanted a diplomatic resolution to the crisis using peaceful means.
"For us, this is the only possible route," he underlined, noting that the SI supported multilateral negotiations in accordance with the rules of international law.
Papandreou also pointed out that every country that signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty had the right, without exceptions, to develop research, production and use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes.
"In this framework, Iran has an obligation to adopt the measures required by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in order to make it clear that its nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes," he added.
Papandreou expressed complete confidence in the IAEA and the United Nations, stressing that they were the appropriate bodies to handle this crisis.
 Turkish PM expected to arrive in Thessaloniki this week
2/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to arrive in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, this week, to participate in the Inter-Balkan Cooperation summit, on the sidelines of which he will be meeting his Greek counterpart Costas Karamanlis.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyiannis held talks focusing on economic relations with her Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Friday on the sidelines of the informal ministerial meeting of NATO member-states.
Asked about a possible visit to Turkey by Karamanlis, Bakoyannis had said that the issue will be settled through diplomatic channels.
 FM Dora Bakoyannis comments on meeting with U.S. counterpart in newspaper interview
ATHENS, 2/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis commented on the main issues of Greek foreign policy and on the recent visit to Athens by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in an interview with the Sunday newspaper "Typos tis Kyriakis."
Bakoyannis said that she does not see her meeting with her U.S. counterpart as being "neither a triumph nor a disaster", stressing that with the American side there is a "convergence regarding our target for peace, stability and growth in our wider region."
A convergence of views also exists on many long-term targets such as that Greece believes that Turkey must have European prospects. The foreign minister clarified that this is so, of course, on condition that Ankara will observe the prerequisites set by the European Union for its accession.
Bakoyannis noted that there is also a difference of approach with the American side as well, such as on the issue of Cyprus. She said Greece's position is known, adding that the targets are common in the sense that all desire a solution for Cyprus.
The minister stressed that "the question is how can we prepare a final, just, viable and workable solution" and mentioned that she briefed Rice in detail on the proposal by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos.
Asked to comment on a statement made by Rice in Athens on the need for lifting the isolation of the northern part of the island, Bakoyannis said one should not simplify matters so much.
"No one speaks in American diplomacy about a different community in the sense of recognizing the Turkish Cypriot regime. They rule this out. What she said in her statements was their steadfast position that there should be a clear effort by the Republic of Cyprus to tone up the economy of the Turkish Cypriot community as well. We are talking about this," the foreign minister said.
As regards the Customs Union Extension protocol that Turkey must ratify by autumn, Bakoyannis made it clear that the time limit set is a time limit set by the EU and not Greece and did not rule out the possibility of tension between Turkey and Europe as a result, saying that "I want to believe that Turkey will respond to its commitments in the end."
Bakoyannis further said that the visit to Ankara by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will be taking place at some time, just like the visit to Athens by her Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul. She also said that the government has the will and has decided on there being a mosque in the Attica region for the needs of Moslems living in Athens.
Referring to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the foreign minister said that no Greek government and no Greek Parliament will ratify the European course of FYROM with its supposed constitutional name.
Lastly, commenting on the issue of Iran, Bakoyannis expressed the hope that the crisis will be handled with diplomatic means at the disposal of the international community.
 Ministers comment on constitutional reform in newspaper interviews
ATHENS, 2/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Incompatibility between the capacity of minister and Parliamentary deputy, the doubling of the number of Deputies of State and a five-year Parliamentary tenure are among government proposals to be tabled in the framework of dialogue on constitutional reform.
Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, in an interview with the Sunday newspaper "Vima tis Kyriakis", and Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis, in a similar interview with the newspaper "Sunday Apogevmatini", commented on the proposals.
Referring to constitutional reform, Meimarakis rejected the proposal on incompatibility between minister and deputy and approved the idea of a five-year government tenure.
On his part, Kefaloyiannis considers constitutional reform as being an opportunity for an "institutional Parliamentary revolution." He also believes that Parliament should have a five-year tenure to enable every government to have time to carry out its reformist work.
Kefaloyianis stressed that incompatibility should be established between the capacity of minister and deputy, while on the question of increasing the number of Deputies of State he said that instead of this he prefers the establishment of a second legislature such as of a Senate.
 PASOK's Papoutsis comments on interview by DM Meimarakis
ATHENS, 2/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) deputy Christos Papoutsis, head of the foreign policy, security and defense department of the party's Political Council, said on Sunday that "the support of the diplomatic efforts for finding a solution to the issue of Iran does not justify the continuous reminder for the availability of Souda, more so when this has not been asked for, as was publicly stated by (Foreign Minister Dora) Bakoyannis and (U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza) Rice."
Papoutsis was commenting on an interview by National Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis to the Sunday edition of "Vima" newspaper.
At the same time, Papoutsis asks "whether Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis had raised the issue of the violation of Greece's territorial waters by Turkey, an issue to which Meimarakis referred to in the interview, during her talks with her American and Turkish counterparts, and at the European Union."
 Ecumenical Patriarch calls for mosque in Athens
ISTANBUL, 2/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Athens should acquire a mosque to serve the needs of Moslems as quickly as possible, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew stressed after leading a service at Cappadocia in Turkey.
"It is being written and said that Athens is the only capital in Europe where there is not a mosque for Moslems and this does not do credit to us, the Greek Orthodox," the Patriarch said after the Sunday mass.
The Patriarch's visit to the region was marred by the protests of Turkey's nationalist 'Grey Wolves' organization. Forty members of the 'Grey Wolves' chanting slogans and making the grey wolves signal greeted the Patriarch on Saturday, when he visited old chapels in the region.
 PASOK wants discussion on energy issues
ATHENS, 2/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Anna Diamantopoulou, head of the development department at the Political Council of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), on Monday stated that the party will submit in Parliament on Tuesday an invitation to Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, in order for energy issues to be discussed
Diamantopoulou said that PASOK demands of the government to immediately brief Parliament on the issues of energy planning, the inspection of the fuel market, the opening of the electricity energy market and the situation at the Public Power Corporation (PPC).
She underlined that the situation at the PPC is "extremely critical."
Foreign Exchange Rates: Until Tuesday
Reference buying rates per euro released
by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.263
 France to honor Theodorakis
2/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)World renowned Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, during a special ceremony which will be held at the French Embassy in Athens on May 17, will be honored with the highest distinction of France to foreign personalities for their contribution to arts, culture and science.
French European Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna, who will come to Greece for this purpose, will award to Theodorakis the distinction of Commandeur of the Legion of Honor for his great contribution in the sectors of art and culture.
 Freighter with cargo of contraband cigarettes confiscated
ATHENS, 2/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)The North Korean-flagged freighter "Sagittarius" was confiscated by Patras port authorities after 991,000 packets of contraband cigarettes were discovered in its hold by Coast Guard officers on Saturday.
Authorities had been tipped off about the arrival of the suspect freighter and located the ship sailing near the islet Oxya, just before it emerged from the Patras Gulf into the Ionian Sea.
The "Sagittarius" was then escorted to the port of Patras and thoroughly searched, revealing the hidden cargo.
Authorities have also arrested the ship's six-member crew, all foreign nationals, who are due to appear before a public prosecutor.
According to announcement, the estimated loss of revenue from the contraband cigarettes comes to ¬ 2,489,143.
 Man arrested for immigrant-smuggling
ATHENS, 2/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)A foreign national was arrested by the Grevena Cross-Border Crime Squad on charges of smuggling illegal immigrants on Friday night.
The man was in a convoy of three cars transporting a total of 10 illegal immigrants that was intercepted by police on Friday night. The occupants of the other cars eluded arrest, abandoning the vehicles and escaping into the surrounding woodland in the dark.
Police said that two of the three cars confiscated were rentals and the third belongs to a Greek national.
 Couple arrested for possession and use of counterfeit notes
ATHENS, 2/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)A man and a woman were arrested in Grevena on a charge of possessing and using counterfeit money.
Police said the couple were carrying 56 fake ¬ 50 banknotes and the sum of ¬ 2,200 that is believed to have been gathered through transactions with private individuals and the purchase of goods using the counterfeit money.
Under questioning, the couple admitted to having carried out 22 monetary transactions in the Grevena area and confessed to purchasing the fake notes from an unknown man in Vathis Square in Athens for the sum of ¬ 20 per note.
 Makeshift explosive device detonated under police van in Athens
ATHENS, 2/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)A makeshift explosive device composed of gas canisters was detonated under a Greek Police van parked outside a police station in the Athens district of Kolonos on Sunday morning, causing only slight damage.
Shortly afterwards, an unidentified person called the Mega television channel and said that responsibility for the attack, as well as for the arson attack, again with the use of gas canisters, outside the Peristeri tax office on Good Friday, was assumed by the "Revolutionary Brigade" group.
 Rails placed across railway track in northern Greece
ATHENS, 2/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Rails were placed by unknown persons across a railway track near Sindos in the region of Thessaloniki, Macedonia, late on Saturday night but an approaching train was able to stop in time.
The driver of the train, heading from Athens to Thessaloniki and from there to Alexandroupoli, spotted the obstacle on the tracks and halted the train before an accident could happen.
The incident has caused concern in the ranks of the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE), while the possibility of deliberate sabotage is also being considered in the framework of ongoing investigations.
 Earth tremor jolts Halkidiki
ATHENS, 2/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)An earth tremor measuring 3.4 points on the Richter scale jolted at 2.22 a.m. on Monday the region of Kassandra. No damage was reported.
The epicenter of the quake was located 60 kilometers southeast of Thessaloniki, Macedonia, in Halkidiki's region of Ormylia.
Seismologists stated there is no cause for concern.
 Greek soccer results and standings
ATHENS, 2/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Results of Greek First Division soccer matches
played on Sunday evening:
Panionios Athens- Iraklis Thessaloniki 3-0
Atromitos Athens-Kallithea Athens 2-1
Ionikos Piraeus-Larissa 1-1
Xanthi-Akratitos Athens 2-0
Levadiakos Livadia-Olympiakos Piraeus 3-2
OFI Crete-PAOK Thessaloniki 2-1
Panathinaikos Athens-Egaleo Athens 4-0
Apollon Kalamaria-AEK Athens 0-1
The standings after 29 weeks of play:
Olympiakos 69 points (championship title)
Apollon Kalamaria 35
Kallithea 20 (relegated)
Akratitos 18 (relegated)