|Monday, 9 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-06-20
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Simitis says tension over Greek F-16s' visit to Paphos 'totally unjustified'Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that the brief presence of four Hellenic Air Force F-16 jets at the Paphos Air Base in Cyprus had nothing to do with the current tension being created by Turkey, since Ankara had been cultivating tension even b efore the visit.
The premier, who was quoted by government spokesman Dimitris Reppas in press statements, was addressing a joint meeting of the inner cabinet and the ruling PASOK party's political secretariat, which he briefed on the results of the European Union summit held in Cardiff earlier in the week.
Mr. Reppas quoted Mr. Simitis as telling the meeting that the Greek aircraft P on a training mission P had been invited by the legitimate Cypriot government, had conducted their flight in a completely peaceful and harmless manner and that "this tension is totally unjustified."
The premier also said that the recent escalation of tension by Turkey had become a usual phenomenon shortly before and after EU summits.
Mr. Simitis told the meeting that Turkey was repeating the mistakes of the past, noting in particular that the present political situation in the neighbouring country was in a transitional phase, in view of the early elections to be held next year.
This fluidity, he said, was tempting Turkish leaders to try and increase their influence.
Four Greek F-16 fighters and a C-130 military transport plane stopped briefly at the Cypriot airbase early this week, carrying senior Greek military officials, as part of plans to evaluate the operational capacity of the base within the framework of the joint Greece-Cyprus defence doctrine.
Turkey in turn sent six F-16 warplanes to the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus on Thursday.
According to an ANA despatch from Ankara yesterday, the six Turkish warplanes have since departed.
Quoting the semi-official Turkish news agency Anadolu, the dispatch said three of the aircraft left at 1:50 local time yesterday while the other three had departed for Turkey on Thursday. Turkish Air Force Chief Gen. Ilhan Kilic later confirmed the info rmation.
On his part, Mr. Reppas said that Athens was defending national interest with "cool-headedness and determination" vis-a-vis Turkish provocations.
Lastly, Mr. Reppas confirmed that the US aircraft carrier "Eisenhower" would be visiting Greece, while clarifying that the visit was scheduled and totally unrelated to recent developments. Tsohatzopoulos: - National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday it would do Turkey no good to use the Cyprus problem as a response to results of the EU summit in Cardiff. He cited Nicosia's planned installation of Russian-made S-300 anti- aircraft missiles an d Greece's support for Cyprus within the two countries' joint defence doctrine.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos called on the neighbouring country to take advantage of the "room given it" and work towards adopting the conditions prevailing in EU countries in order to upgrade relations with the Community.
Commenting on the visit to the Paphos airbase by Greek jets, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos reiterated that it was Nicosia' s inalienable right to grant permission for brief visits by military aircraft within the framework of the training policy followed by Greece and Cyprus as part of their joint defence doctrine. Athens News Agency
 White House responseWASHINGTON (ANA - T. Ellis) - "The United States has urged Greece and Turkey to limit tension and avoid actions which could be construed by the other side as being provocative," White House spokesman Mike McCurry said late Thursday night.
Mr. McCurry said: "The two countries can find ways to reduce tension in the Aegean".
He was commenting on tension that has arisen after the landing of Greek and Turkish warplanes on Cyprus, the northern third of which has been occupied by Turkish troops for the past 24 years.
US Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon also said Thursday night that the aircraft arrivals were "destabilising to the area" and "indicative of how tension can arise from the transport of weapons systems to the island.
"The US have made clear their opposition to the destabilising development of forces in the Aegean, and particularly on Cyprus," Mr. Bacon said.
In reply to press questions, Mr. Bacon said that the US airplane carrier "Eisenhower" was due to sail into the Mediterranean today, heading to the Adriatic Sea, following its June 8 departure from its home port in Norfolk, Virginia. However, he added th at he did not anticipate a US military response to mounting tension on Cyprus. Diplomacy, he said, was the "appropriate" response.
Athens on Thursday announced that the US's newly appointed ambassador to the UN and US presidential emissary on the Cyprus problem, Richard Holbrooke, was due in the Greek capital on Monday, accompanied by the US State Department's Cyprus coordinator, T homas Miller.
Mr. McCurry said Mr. Holbrooke, during his Athens visit, would have the "opportunity to say a few things" concerning his Cyprus effort "as he is starting to consider transferring that portfolio to someone else", following his UN appointment.
To a question regarding US policy on the Imia islets in the eastern Aegean, Greek sovereignty over which was recently disputed by Ankara, Mr. McCurry said the US reasoning on the issue of the "contested islands" remained the same, namely that it was som ething that should be resolved "in mediation and upon agreement between the two parties in action before the International Court of Justice" at The Hague. Opposition: - On its part, main opposition New Democracy accused the government of "passiveness and compliance", charging that "this policy encourages Turkey to behave provocatively." ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said the government should undertake al l the necessary initiatives in order to condemn Ankara's strategy and policy at all international organisations.
New Democracy, he continued, had long since warned that "we have reached a point where although Greece, for good or for bad, continues its policy of not demanding anything, Turkey continues to demand more and more, and certain third parties are pressuri ng us to negotiate everything."
---- In a related development, United Nations chief Kofi Annan yesterday issued a statement appealing to all parties involved to abstain from any action, which could add to tension. Athens News Agency
 Yilmaz: Greece should 'stop testing our resolve' on CyprusBUCHAREST (Reuters/ANA) - Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz yesterday urged Greece to "stop testing our resolve" on Cyprus and said "military actions undertaken there by Athens" posed a threat to Turkey itself.
Mr. Yilmaz also said his government expected mediation from no one, although he reminded Britain of its duty to help resolve the dispute.
Turkey, he said, had repeatedly denounced the proposed deployment of Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles, while he repeated pledges to take whatever measures were necessary to counteract them.
"Installing Russian missiles in the southern part of Cyprus not only destabilises peace in Cyprus, but is also an action which will lead to the deterioration of the balance in the eastern Mediterranean," he said.
In Ankara, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel on Thursday night claimed that "Greece continued its efforts to upset the peace in the eastern Mediterranean."
Answering to press questions, Mr. Demirel said that " Greece landed airplanes at the Paphos Air Base and Turkey answered by sending airplanes" to the "illegal" Lefkonico airbase in the Turkish-occupied north of the island republic. Turkish Foreign Minis ter Ismail Cem and Turkish deputy military chief Gen. Cevik Bir were set to arrive in the occupied regions of the Republic of Cyprus yesterday, according to press reports.
Athens News Agency
 Cem vows intensified Turkish efforts over Cyprus issueANKARA (Reuters/ANA) - Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem yesterday vowed Turkey would counter Greece step for step in a diplomatic and military wrangle over the divided island of Cyprus.
"Whatever is done to provoke or weaken the rightful cause of the Turkish Cypriots will be duly answered by Turkey," Mr. Cem told Reuters in an interview.
He declined to elaborate on how Turkey would respond.
Cyprus's internationally recognised government has announced plans to deploy S-300 anti-aircraft missiles from Russia in the free areas of Cyprus later this year.
Turkey, which has a much larger army than Greece and garrisons more than 35, 000 troops in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, has threatened to strike against the missiles. Athens says any military intervention to the missiles deployment would be a cause of war. Turkish war ships visited occupied northern Cyprus this week as part of major naval manoeuvres in the Aegean and Mediterranean. Athens News Agency
 Germany condemns increased tension over CyprusBONN (Reuters/ANA) -Germany yesterday condemned the escalation of tensions between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus and said the threat of violence between two European nations P both NATO members P was "completely unacceptable."
German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said in a statement that Bonn had issued "an emphatic warning to both sides against using military force".
Mr. Kinkel said military deployments by Turkey and Greece were alarming.
"Any sort of threats backed by military force are completely unacceptable in Europe today," Mr. Kinkel said. ""It cannot be possible that two NATO members threaten each other with military force."
Athens News Agency
 Turkey plans exercises near Greek border -- paperANKARA (Reuters/ANA) - Turkey is planning to hold naval exercises near its western border with Greece as tensions rise on the divided island of Cyprus, a Turkish newspaper said yesterday.
The manoeuvres would form part of a month-long Turkish military operation in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas, the Milliyet newspaper reported.
"All ships taking part in the manoeuvres will meet in the northern Aegean and conduct shooting exercises over the sea off Saros," the paper said. There was no immediate official confirmation of the report.
Athens News Agency
 Commercial Bank approves sale of Ionian, earlier violence disrupts assemblyThe state-owned Commercial Bank of Greece shareholders' general assembly late last night approved the sale of at least 51 per cent of shares for its subsidiary, Ionian Bank, as part of the government's wide-ranging privatisation plan.
The bank's general assembly was held late last night after an Athens court ruling allowing for the assembly to reconvene, following serious incidents which disrupted a previous session earlier in the day.
Finance Undersecretary George Drys and National Economy Undersecretary Christos Pachtas, present at last night's assembly, told reporters afterwards that the government's privatisation programme will unwaveringly be implemented.
Protesting Ionian Bank employees broke up that Commercial Bank shareholders' meeting.
At the morning meeting, several protesting Ionian employees smas-hed chairs, overturned tables and jostled shareholders, forcing them to leave the hall where the meeting was being held at a downtown Athens hotel.
A public prosecutor ordered an urgent preliminary investigation into the violence that disrupted the morning shareholders' meeting, stalling debate and a vote on the sale of Ionian's majority stake through the bourse.
Police are studying TV footage of the rampage to identify perpetrators.
Employees at Ionian Bank have staged a rolling strike since May 11 to protest the privatisation, despite court rulings declaring the strike illegal. Other banks have held one-off stoppages in solidarity. Both banks are listed on the Athens bourse.
The sale of Ionian is being seen as a test of the government's grit in carrying out its privatisation programme in the face of strikes and protests, as it has committed itself to the European Union over the privatisation plan.
Athens made the commitment when the drachma was incorporated into the EU's exchange rate mechanism on March 14, as a stepping stone to the 15-nation bloc's Economic and Monetary Union, which Greece hopes to join by January 1, 2001.
The International Monetary Fund has urged a more aggressive sale of state banks in order to streamline the sprawling state sector.
The president of Ionian's staff association, Yiannis Markakis, claimed the violence was triggered when Commercial Bank Governor Costas Georgoutsakos insulted him. Commercial Bank's board of directors met after the incident to decide on an action plan , while Ionian employees occupied the hall.
Earlier this week, a court rejected a petition by Commercial's management seeking to limit attendance by bank employees at the shareholders meeting in order to forestall any disruption.
Prosecutor Georgios Koliokostas yesterday asked that depositions be taken from witnesses present at the meeting, including the governor and board of directors of Commercial Bank, as well as police officers on duty in the hall.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters earlier yesterday that the government was confident the shareholders' meeting would endorse the sale of Ionian Bank yesterday. Commercial Bank's management attempted to have the meeting reconvened the same day with the assistance of judicial officials.
Speaking after Prime Minister Costas Simitis chaired a meeting of the inner cabinet and senior ruling PASOK officials, Mr. Reppas said judicial authorities were expected soon to take a decision on reconvening the assembly.
"It is unacceptable that a small group with less than 1.0 per cent of the share capital of Commercial Bank can undermine progress," Mr. Reppas said.
"The assembly was prevented from going ahead in a violent and unlawful manner."
He repeated that the government would forge ahead with its privatisation plan, refusing to bow to pressure.
"The government will not allow undemocratic, autocratic and sector interest to impose the will of the minority on the majority," Mr. Reppas said. Violence shows Greece as 'banana republic', Evert says: -- Miltiades Evert, the former leader of the main opposition New Democracy party, said yesterday that the country gave the impression of being a 'banana republic'.
Mr. Evert described the violent disruption of Commercial Bank's shareholders' meeting as "tragi-comic, unacceptable and unprecedented".
He also cited two other incidents of violence in Athens this week.
In the first, a student was savagely beaten in broad daylight outside a courthouse, where police at the scene reportedly failed to intervene. In the second, a police patrol car was burned after a firebomb attack.
"All this conjures up images of a banana republic. If the government is not in a position to implement its policy, then for the good of the country it should resign," Mr. Evert said. Athens News Agency
 Black Sea bank directors focus on spending since '94The first two-day meeting of the Black Sea development bank's board of directors opened in Thessaloniki yesterday morning, with the main topic being approval of spending from 1994 to the present P US$400,000 P all covered by the National Bank of Greece.
The debt will be paid back after a majority decision taken during yesterdayYs session, to which however, objections were voiced by directors from the Ukraine and Turkey.
Also discussed was the construction of a building near ThessalonikiYs Macedonia Airport to house the bankYs headquarters, with a relevant request to be submitted with the Greek government.
A draft agreement for the development bankYs operation is expected to be ratified by Parliament in the fall. Athens News Agency
 Greece conveys concern over rising Turkish provocations to NATOBRUSSELS (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)- Greece yesterday conveyed its concern to NATO over mounting Turkish provocations and the repeated violation of its national airspace by Turkish jets.
In a letter to NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, GreeceYs permanent representative at the alliance, Ambassador Savvaedis, underlined GreeceYs concern for AnkaraYs behaviour, which is contrary to a recent statement by Mr. Solana in relation to the im plementation of the Papoulias-Yilmaz memorandum. Athens News Agency
 NATO, PfP military exercise in ItalyA military exercise code-named "Coopera-tive Dragon '98" will take place in Italy as of today and until July 4. Armed forces from NATO member-states and Partnership for Peace (PfP) members will participate.
The exercise is aimed at strengthening the capability of participating countries to undertake operations in the framework of peace missions, search and rescue operations, as well as other humanitarian activities.
NATO member-states and the PfP countries, namely, Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine, the United States and Uzbekistan will be p articipating with staff members. Greece will participate with a number of staff members from the army general staff and the air force general staff.
An announcement by the national defence general staff said the exercise is not related to any other military exercise or activity. Athens News Agency
 Crisis-handling conference in AthensRepresentatives from Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Turkey, the United States and Russia have declared participation in the crises-handling conference entitled "Athens '98."
It will be held at the national defence general staff between June 30 and July 3 within the framework of the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme.
Eighteen NATO member-states and PfP countries have already declared participation in the conference. Athens News Agency
 Austrian EU presidency to present priorities to Athens next monthVIENNA (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis) -Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel will present to Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos the priorities of Austria's European Union presidency during a visit t o Athens next month.
The arrival of Mr. Schuessel in Athens is within the framework of visits to all EU member-states.
Sources noted that the Austrian foreign minister will discuss the EU accession of six candidate-countries of the first group, which includes Cyprus.
He will also discuss the Agenda 2000 and the establishment of the Euro on Jan. 1, 1999. Athens News Agency
 Mediterranean media officials meet in AthensA two-day conference of the Network of Mass Media Regulating Principles representatives from five EU Mediterranean countries ended in Athens yesterday, with officials concluding that Mediterranean countries have gone ahead with implementation of general s elf-regulating rules.
Electronic media officials said they ascertained that a viewers' notification system on the type of television programmes (violent, adult content etc.) implemented a year ago in France had brought some results, in terms of protecting children from inapp ropriate TV programmes.
During the conference, organised at the initiative of the (Greek) Radio and Television Council, speakers stressed that self-regulating rules, proper supervision by parents and TV stations and constant updating at schools were the best methods to protect both children and adults from violent and pornographic material broadcasts.
The network, based in Paris, will organise an annual conference, with the next meeting scheduled for Lisbon. Athens News Agency
 PASOK's political secretariat calls Cardiff summit a positive developmentPASOK's political secretariat yesterday met under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Costas Simitis to consider the recent EU Cardiff summit, concluding that it was effective and produced positive results for European unification prospects.
Meanwhile, in a press briefing, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the problem EU finances and resources will be decided during the German presidency until March 1999 and after intense negotiations and consultations are held for a final position to be defined. Athens News Agency
 Turkey's financing examined by Commission's legal departmentBRUSSELS (ANA - M. Spinthourakis) - Meanwhile, a European Commission press spokeswoman told the ANA yesterday that EU financing to Turkey was currently being examined by the CommissionYs legal department.
Specifically, she said the legal service would initially examine whether a reference to TurkeyYs EU financing, contained in the final communique of the recent Cardiff summit, could be implemented.
However, according to sources close to the Commission, the EU ministerial council and the EuroparliamentYs unanimous consent are required before any decision on economic assistance to Turkey is adopted.
Athens News Agency
 Turkish foreign ministry expresses reservations over Athens-Ankara higher education protocolANKARA (ANA - A. Abatzis) - The Turkish foreign ministry has expressed reservation over a coorepation protocol between the University of Athens and its Ankara counterpart, according to an article published in the "Cumhurriyet" daily yesterday.
The article, entitled "Reservations on Academic Cooperation with Athens", said the Turkish foreign ministry examined and approved the protocol but under condition that cooperation between the two institutions be based on the needs and proposals of the U niversity of Ankara.
Athens News Agency
 Orthodoxy to mark the year 2000 in JerusalemJerusalem will host Orthodoxy's international celebrations marking the 2000 years since the birth of Christ.
The decision was taken yesterday in Thessaloniki, during a meeting of a coordinating committee, attended by 35 representatives from Orthodox Churches around the world. Athens News Agency
 Venizelos responds to press report over damage to archaeological sitesCulture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday strongly refuted allegations in a British press report claiming that antiquities and archaeological sites were being destroyed or given only cursory study in order to facilitate construction of a new museum n ear the Acropolis.
The article appeared in the London daily "The Times".
"Quite coincidentally, just a few days after the startling revelations of (British historian) William St. Clair about the damage caused to the Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum and the concealing of the truth from international organisations and t he international scientific community, some British newspapers have published reports claiming that archaeological finds from excavations are being destroyed in order to build the new Acropolis Museum in Athens," Mr. Venizelos said, replying to reporters' questions regarding the article. During the 1980s, late culture minister Melina Mercouri spearheaded a campaign for the return of the marbles to Greece, something pursued by every Greek government since then.
The 5th century sculptures were removed from the Parthenon Temple on the Acropolis by Lord Elgin almost 200 years ago. Often referred to as the "Elgin Marbles", the British aristocrat and diplomat sold them to the British Museum in 1816.
William St. Clair, an authority on the marbles, published a book last week entitled "Lord Elgin and the Marbles", in which he reveals that the British Museum caused irreparable damage to the sculptures in 1937, when workmen tried to remove their ancient honey-coloured patina using metal scrapers and abrasives.
"Only a totally ignorant person would not know that antiquities will be found at any location where excavation work is being carried out, not only in Athens but throughout Greece. All finds are evaluated on the basis of strictly scientific criteria acco rding to their historical and archaeological significance and rareness," Mr. Venizelos said. Referring to the site set aside for the construction of the new museum at the foot of the Acropolis, Mr. Venizelos said extensive excavations were being con ducted with extreme care and diligence and finds were being assessed by the Archaeological Service in accordance with the principles and rules which govern all archaeological studies.
"The British press may in any case contact the British Archaeological School, which has been operating in Greece for more than 100 years, to obtain any information on the matter which it might require. And it would be very interesting to hear the views of the British archaeologists who are working in Greece regarding the matter, as well as concerning the issue of the return of the Parthenon Marbles to where they naturally belong," Mr. Venizelos said.
The minister concluded his statement expressing certainty that "the sensitivity of the authoritative British press on archaeological matters will be displayed also with their support for the return of the Parthenon Marbles." Athens News Agency
 Stephanopoulos-Constantopoulos meetingPresident of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos discussed foreign and domestic policy issues during a meeting with Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos held yesterday at the latter's request. Mr. Constantopoulos br iefed the president on his recent visit to Cyprus, where Mr. Stephanopoulos is due to officially visit between June 25-28. Mr. Constantopoulos said that from the Luxembourg to the Cardiff summit, the political climate was particularly pressing for Greece.
He also proposed that there should be a framework of joint initiatives between Greece and Cyprus to handle pressures on both governments.
Athens News Agency
 Book details Andreas Papandreou's life, policies during the '60sA book by Parliament deputy president Panayiotis Kritikos entitled "The Rift", referring to late prime minister Andreas Papandreou during the '60s, was presented at the Old Parliament Building yesterday.
The book covers the period before the 1967 dictatorship, during which Andreas Papandreou made his first steps in politics and refers to political positions of PASOK's founder, who expressed centre-left positions in Greece at the time.
Addresses were made on the book by the long-time PASOK cadre and former minister Yiannis Haralambopoulos, the president of the Cypriot socialist EDEK party, Vassos Lysarides, and Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Andreas Papandreou's son. Exhibition: -- In a related development, an exhibition entitled "Memory of Andreas Papandreou 1964- 1981" will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Costas Simitis at the Zappeion Hall at 8 p.m. on Monday. It will be organised by the George Papandreou Cultural Foundation.
For the first time, the exhibition presents rare photographs, documents, notes and posters concerning Andreas Papandreou.
The PASOK founder's works are also depicted after his return to Greece until his assumption of power on Oct. 18, 1981. Personal items from Andreas Papandreou's office will be on display in special showcases.
Finally, a memorial service will take place at his grave at the Athens First Cemetary. Athens News Agency
 Three Albanian transvestites arrested in ThessalonikiLocal cross-dressing streetwalkers in Thessaloniki are up in arms about their Albanian counterparts who they say are stealing their customers through "illicit competition" by undercutting the going rates.
On Thursday night, police arrested "three young ladies" in downtown Thessaloniki who were "dressed provocatively" and "ha-rassing passers-by", a police announcement said.
But police and judiciary alike were left speechless yesterday morning during a court appearance of the now primly-dressed "ladies" when an inspection of their passports showed Albania as their place of origin.
The transvestites said during questioning in court that they had not bothered anyone, their comportment had been "impeccable", and that they were "making an honest living".
The court sentenced the three to 15 days in jail, and the transvestites, unable to pay off the sentence, were taken to Diavates prison.
Athens News Agency
 Newspaper office target of bombA home-made bomb exploded outside the offices of the extreme-right wing newspaper "Stochos" (Target) in downtown Thessaloniki early yesterday, causing damage but no injuries, police said.
The make-shift bomb, placed at the entrance of the newspaper's fifth-floor offices on Vassileos Irakliou steet, destroyed the office door.
Police said the damage was minimal because only one of the two gas cannisters exploded.
So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Athens News Agency
 Warning shots injure bystanderThursday's clashes between police and young protesters in downtown Athens left behind a victim from a police officer's warning shots in the air.
According to reports, Apostolos Gagomiros, 37, was wounded by gunfire from a policeman's service revolver, police officials announced.
Authorities said police Sgt. Ilias Anastasopoulos shot in the air three times in efforts to disperse a crowd of youths, who had set his patrol car ablaze with fire bombs.
The announcement noted that doctors confirmed the bullet came from the police officer's gun. They said the bullet had been deformed, leading to the tentative conclusion that it ricocheted, as none of the victim's bones were struck. The man was standing next to a building in the area.
The police officer was hospitalised with first and second degree burns at a military hospital. Athens News Agency
 Greek-German friendship conference to focus on reparations issuesA three-day Greek-German friendship conference began yesterday in Delphi, under the aegis of the prefectural local administration of Viotia.
German researchers, journalists and politicians are expected to explain the legal and historical sides of the war reparations issue, demanded by Greek citizens who suffered damages during the 1941-1944 occupation of Greece.
Athens News Agency
 Jewish lawyers, jurists int'l conference in ThessalonikiThe International Union of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists will organise an international conference in Thessaloniki between June 25-28 with the purpose of honouring the Jewish past of the city and the contribution of Jewish legal experts and intellectuals in shaping Greek law.
The conference will be attended by attorneys from the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Bulgaria, Sweden and Greece. About 180 lawyers and jurists will participate.
The event is part of a series of conferences to be held in various cities in Europe in memory of Jewish lawyers, jurists and intellectuals lost in Thessaloniki during WWII.
Issues to be discussed at the conference include the family law of Greek Jews and the transition from the Jewish to religious law in the Greek civil code as well as the legal status of Jewish communities in Greece.
Athens News Agency
 "Healthy Cities" initiative opens in Athens todayA four-day international conference focusing on the World Health Organisation's (WHO) "Healthy Cities" initiative opens in Athens today, organised jointly by WHO and the Municipality of Athens.
The meeting, marking the successful programme's 10th anniversary, will present its 3rd Phase, aimed at improving urban dwellersY health and provide solutions to a number of problems, such as polution, poverty, social marginalisation, drugs, alcoholism a nd smoking.
There are currenlty about 1,000 cities around the world working on "Healthy Cities" projects, but WHO expects a number of "newcomers" to join in.
The Athens conference will be attended by 600 participants, of whom 90 are mayors from cities in Europe and the rest of the world.
Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos said at a press conference yesterday that city officials have processed a "Healthy City" plan for Athens and are currently placing the final touches. Athens News Agency
 Greek stocks slip in volatile trade due to Ionian Bank debacleGreek equities yesterday ended slightly down in roller-coaster trade following violent disruption of a Commercial Bank of Greece shareholders meeting called to approve the sale of a majority stake in Ionian Bank, its subsidiary.
The Athens general share index finished 0.94 percent lower at 2,451.82 points to show a net gain of 0.97 percent in the week.
Trading was heavy at 88 billion drachmas.
The week's turnover was 314.6 billion drachmas, posting a daily average of 62.12 billion, up from 47.8 billion the previous week.
Commercial Bank and Ionian Bank shares ended sharply higher, reflecting the market's optimism over the government's resolve to go ahead with Ionian's privatisation despite repeated strikes and protests by workers.
Commercial Bank's shareholders meeting ended in disarray with no vote on the privatisation after Ionian workers smashed chairs, overturned tables and jostled shareholders.
Talk of events at the meeting alternately drove share prices up or down in line with the news.
Sector indices were mixed. Banks rose 0.68 percent, Insurance jumped 2.17 percent, Investment fell 1.10 percent, Leasing ended 2.24 percent higher to show a spectacular 15.4 percent rise in the week, Industrials dropped 2.48 percent, Construction eas ed 1.74 percent, Miscellaneous ended 2.19 percent lower and Holding dropped 2.34 percent.
The parallel market index for small cap companies dropped 1.31 percent.
The FTSE/ASE 20 ended 0.59 percent down at 1,470.75.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 154 to 80 with another 20 issues unchanged.
Athens Bank, Sysware, Piraeus Leasing, Athinea, Mediterranean Invest, Development Invest, European Credit and Ergobank scored the biggest percentage gains.
Mouzakis, Elfico, Ippotour, Constantinidis, Klonatex, Remek, Teletypos, Radio Athina and Nematemboriki suffered the heaviest losses.
National Bank of Greece ended at 39,900 drachmas, Ergobank at 27,700, Alpha Credit Bank at 27,400, Ionian Bank at 14,000, Delta Dairy at 4,000, Titan Cement at 20,900, Intracom at 11,550 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 7,450. Athens News Agency
 Strikes at key ports continue after breakdown in talksStrikes at the country's two largest ports, Piraeus and Thessaloniki, again paralysed operations yesterday following a deadlock in talks between the government and the port workers' union, which is protesting a privatisation plan.
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Merchant Marine Ministry General Secretary Athanasios Tsouroplis assured OMYLE union federation officials that both ports would remain under state control with the government retaining a majo rity 51 percent stake.
The two also said that the government would safeguard jobs following the partial privatisation.
The two largest ports remained paralysed with operations at cargo terminals grinding to a halt. The strike is scheduled to last until Tuesday.
Merchant marine ministry officials warned that the strike could inflict grave damage on both Piraeus and the economy as cargo ships would seek other ports in Turkey, Malta and Italy. Athens News Agency
 Gov't, opposition in parliamentary tussle over farmingThe government and the main opposition party yesterday clashed over agriculture policy during a heated debate in parliament.
New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis accused the government of irresponsibility and wrong policy decisions.
Having a strong agricultural policy is a priority," Mr. Karamanlis said.
He charged the government with a failure to negotiate Greek farm interests within the European Union. Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas rejected the accusations saying that the country would receive 1.2 trillion drachmas in subsidies from the E uropean Union despite a World Trade Organisation campaign against farm subsidies.
He said that although Greece's contribution accounted for only 4.0 percent of the EU's budget, its subsidies from the 15-nation bloc totalled 7.0 percent.
Mr. Tzoumakas also outlined the government's plans to reform the country's agriculture sector.
They include an insurance programme for 750,000 farmers, incentives to young farmers worth 80 billion drachmas, education, and efforts to maximise agricultural production. Athens News Agency
 Public works ministry releases credits for infrastructure projectsThe public works ministry yesterday released 4.2 billion drachmas in credits to finance infrastructure projects around the country.
The funding is for roadbuilding works in the prefectures of Phthiotida, Larissa, Hania, and Ioannina; and flood prevention projects in the prefectures of Rethymno, Iraklio and Kilkis. Athens News Agency
 Greek, Cypriot transport ministers to meetTransport and Communications Minister Tasos Mantelis will have talks with Cypriot Communications and Public Works Minister Leontios Ierodiakonou in Athens on Monday.
The talks will focus on air transport and the two countries' national carriers. Ways will also be discussed to broaden bilateral cooperation in the communications sector.
At the same time, transport and communications ministry officials will brief their Cypriot counterparts on the European Union's legislative framework in the two sectors. Athens News Agency
 V. Papandreou points to renewable energy sources for OlympicsDevelopment Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday proposed the utilisation of renewable energy sources as well as energy conservation systems at all new facilities for the Athens 2004 Olympiad.
In a letter to culture minister and president of an inter-ministerial Olympics committee Evangelos Venizelos, Ms Papandreou said this proposal is in absolute harmony with the effort to ensure that the event will be characterised by quality at all levels .
In a statement immediately after Greece was awarded the 2004 Olympiad, Ms. Papandreou had announced her intention to promote the use of renewable sources of energy, as well as conservation systems at installations related to the event. Athens News Agency
 EU merchant marine ministers consider details of safety directiveBRUSSELS (ANA - P. Pantelis) - The European Union Council of mechant marine ministers yesterday decided on details of a proposed directive regarding safety issues for ferryboats servicing EU ports, regardless of registry.
Greek Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis, supported by his Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian counterparts, noted the need for the continuation of current cabotage policies, since as he added, they are important for the economic and social c ohesion of local residents.
Athens News Agency
 Patriarch receives RFK's son, RobertISTANBUL (ANA - A. Kourkoulas) - Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos yesterday received Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the son of assassinated US senator Robert Kennedy.
Mr. Kennedy offered a book he has recently authored to the Patriarch and received Vartholomeos' blessing and appreciation for his work.
Mr. Kennedy was due to address an ecological seminar on the island of Halki yesterday afternoon, on the issue of "Our Environmental prospects."
Athens News Agency
 President to receive 'broken key' to occupied Cypriot cityPresident of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos will be made an honorary citizen of the city of Evagora by the Municipality of Famagusta and presented with the "broken gold key" of the Turkish-occupied city of Famagusta, when he makes the first-ever visit to Cyprus by a Greek President on June 25-28.
The ceremony will take place on Sunday, June 28 at the Famagusta Cultural Centre in the town of Deryneia.
Athens News Agency