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Athens News Agency: News in English, 02-11-24
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Successful counter-terrorism exercise held for Athens Olympics24/11/2002 20:25:59
A government counter-terrorism exercise to prepare for the Athens 2004 Olympics ended successfully on Sunday with players handling a mock airline hijacking at the capital's international airport and a pretend bomb attack against a floating hotel in Piraeus.
''We have demonstrated that when we make the right preparations, when we act with precision, when we handle all contingencies in an incident in the right way, then we emerge victorious,'' Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis told reporters.
Taking part in the three-day ''Rainbow 2002'' exercise to offer practice in terrorist attacks were more than 1,800 people including members of the police, fire brigade, coast guard, secret services, ambulance service, civil aviation authority, and Olympic Airways.
Hired were extras who played aircraft passengers and guests at the floating hotel, for which a ship was used in port.
The exercise was based on a British model, adapted to local Greek features. Officers from Scotland Yard helped to design and prepare the trial.
''This exercise was the product of at least a year's worth of preparations with British officers from Scotland Yard,' Chrysohoidis said.
''I think that the exercise is one step forward for an even more professional Greek police force, for even better preparation ahead of the Olympics, preparation for the police and other authorities taking part in security for the games,'' he added.
 Two police officers to be charged with releasing detainees24/11/2002 19:47:33
Two police officers are to be charged on Sunday with unlawfully releasing two detainees in a court building.
Identified as Anastasios Kaloyeropoulos and Christos Natsis, the officers allegedly freed two Bulgarian women, who were charged with theft, in a central Athens court on Saturday. The women are still wanted.
In addition, the police force is holding an internal enquiry under oath into the case.
 Greece, Marocco discuss EU summit with Africa in 200324/11/2002 19:34:05
Greece and Marocco last week discussed a European Union summit with African countries that is due to be held in the first half of 2003 when Athens holds the rotating presidency of the 15-nation bloc.
During a visit to the north African country on November 21, Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis ascertained Marocco's interest in achieving closer ties with the EU.
Yiannitsis, who affirmed Greece's backing for the EU's Mediterranean angle, met officials including the country's prime minister, and ministers of foreign affairs, finance and privatisation, and agriculture.
Other topics on the agenda for talks were coordination on illegal migration, the Middle East conflict, Iraq and the need for stability in Africa.
The two countries also agreed to set up a joint business committee to handle programmes in the economic sector.
 Opinion Poll: Half of Attica residents back UN Cyprus plan24/11/2002 19:17:56
An opinion poll released on Sunday showed that 50.1 percent of Attica residents support a recent UN blueprint as the means of ending the partition of Cyprus.
Backing the plan as a basis for negotiation were 59 percent of respondents, with 44.0 percent saying they were satisfied with the government's handling of the matter, and 50.6 percent disagreeing, according to the survey conducted by Opinion.
Expressing the view that the UN blueprint favoured Turkish-Cypriots were 49.3 percent of respondents; 7.9 percent felt that it favoured Greek Cypriots; and 27 percent said that the plan was favourable for both sides.
Interviewed for the poll, which was published by the Sunday Eleftherotypia newspaper, were a sample of 1,011 residents of Attica.
 Two main trade union groups may unite in five years24/11/2002 18:56:23
The country's two largest trade union groups may join forces in five years following a vote held by one of the groups, the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), over the weekend.
The GSEE, which represents nearly a million workers in the private and public sectors, voted to adopt a five-year phased alignment plan with the ADEDY civil servants union that could lead to unification of the two most influential trade union umbrella groups.
GSEE leaders had called the meeting to change the groups' statutes, including unification of sector federations and labour centres on a regional level, and the abolition of tenure limits for the board, motions that were passed.
At the same time, acrimony broke out when trade unionists aligned to the Communist Party of Greece and Coalition of the Left and Progress voted down a motion by ruling PASOK-aligned members to change ''workers'' in the federation's name to ''employees''.
When the proposal fell flat, PASOK-aligned GSEE president Christos Polyzogopoulos stirred passions by accusing the Coalition of supporting alleged members of the November 17 terrorist group, who have been remanded in custody awaiting trial.
In an ensuing rumpus, Polyzogopoulos said he retracted the statement and asked to have the offending phrase removed from the meeting's minutes. But Coalition-aligned delegates stormed out of the meeting in protest.
The motion for a name-change was backed by tendencies aligned to the main opposition New Democracy party, but failed to gain a large enough majority to pass.
 US: Terrorism no longer stumbling block in ties with Greece24/11/2002 18:21:11
NEW YORK (ANA/M.Georgiadou) - The US ambassador to Greece, Thomas Miller, said that terrorism was no longer a stumbling block for Washington in its ties with Athens.
''For a long time there was fear and discrimination against Greece,'' Miller told the Council of Overseas Greeks, which awarded him a plaque on Saturday for his role in Greek national issues and contribution to culture.
''This matter (terrorism) will no longer stand as an obstacle in our relations,'' he said.
Many alleged members of the November 17 terrorist group have been remanded in custody pending trial following a string of arrests and confessions since the summer.
Several of the urban guerrilla group's victims were US officials.
 Gov't vows to combat joblessness in Thessaloniki24/11/2002 17:49:26
Labour and Social Security Minister Dimitris Reppas on Sunday pledged to tackle unemployment in Thessaloniki, the country's second largest urban area, as part of an integrated plan.
''We believe that this will play a major role in combatting joblessness, which remains at high levels in the broader Thessaloniki area,'' Reppas told journalists in the northern port city.
The minister said that one move underway was to create three new job finding centres for the city next year, bringing the total to four.
 Greece, Cyprus had no foreknowledge of UN plan24/11/2002 17:38:17
NICOSIA (ANA/G.Leonidas) - Greece and Cyprus had no knowledge of the contents of a UN blueprint for reunification of the divided island before its official release, the Greek ambassador in Nicosia, Christos Panagopoulos, said on Sunday.
The governments of the two countries were in touch with officials who contributed to the final plan, but they did not divulge its provisions, Panagopoulos told reporters in reponse to media reports claiming the contrary.
Asked to comment on progress concerning the UN blueprint, the diplomat said that leeway appeared to be negligible in reaching an agreement, due to the Turkish side.
''Efforts by the Greek and Cypriot side are now focused on the second major goal, which is Cyprus' entry into the European Union, and that is where the two governments will give battle,'' Panagopoulos added.
 EU foreign ministers to meet in Alexandroupoli in 200324/11/2002 17:18:18
The European Union's foreign ministers are to meet in Alexandroupoli early in June 2003 at the end of Greece's rotating presidency of the 15-nation bloc, Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos said on Sunday.
The meeting will focus on cooperation for development, including reducing global poverty, Loverdos told reporters during a visit to the northeastern town to monitor preparations for next year's event.
Also attending the June session will be the foreign ministers of 10 countries nearing EU membership, including Cyprus, Loverdos added.
 Gas stations, doctors, taxis to stage strikes this week24/11/2002 16:25:28
Petrol station owners are to stage a 24-hour strike on Monday, meeting later the same day to decide if further action will be taken to protest against government measures affecting the sector.
In addition, state hospital doctors are to strike for 48 hours beginning on Monday morning to press for financial demands. Emergencies will be handled, as required by law.
The doctors want to see more state spending on health in the 2003 budget to allow more recruitment, mainly in regional hospitals; 13.4 percent more funding for off-hours duty rotas; and absorption of monies from the European Union's Third Community Support Framework.
Also being sought from the government are an immediate start to talks on a new payscale for doctors and swift payment of a 176 euro bonus that doctors say other state workers have received since January 1, 2002.
Finally, taxi owners will stage a 48-hour strike beginning at 0500 hours on Wednesday.
The SATA union said that it had called the strike to press for a rise in the base tariff, and to protest against the introduction of new bus lanes, from which taxis are barred.
Members will stage a protest in central Athens on Thursday and a protest march along selected bus lanes, the statement said.
 Weather Forecast: Scattered cloud on Monday24/11/2002 15:51:19
Scattered cloud is forecast in all parts of the country. The morning will be misty, especially on the mainland. Winds variable, moderate to strong. In the north, temperatures will range from 04C to 20C; in the west from 09C to 20C; and in the rest of the country from 08C to 22C. Temperatures in Athens between 11C and 21C; and in Thessaloniki from 07C to 19C.
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