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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-07-20

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Simitis says Cyprus issue is at a stage of possible developments
  • [02] Simitis briefs President on domestic and foreign policy matters
  • [03] Simitis addresses PASOK meeting
  • [04] Greek, Turkish foreign ministers to meet next month
  • [05] Federal Republic of Germany strikes back, freezing order to seize its property
  • [06] Justice minister: No discussions over IDs, German war reparations in meeting with PM
  • [07] Reppas says government wants dialogue to regulate Church property
  • [08] Simitis briefed by Athens 2004 leadership prior to contacts with IOC
  • [09] Planning for the Athens 2004 Olympics is right on track, Australian sports official says
  • [10] Apostolakis to meet his US counterpart
  • [11] New French ambassador to arrive in Athens on Thursday
  • [12] New U.S. General Consul in Thessaloniki
  • [13] Karamanlis blasts gov't over its handling of wildfires
  • [14] Greek European Commissioner in Dublin for talks with Irish government members
  • [15] Labor ministry, unions discuss terms of dialogue
  • [16] EU committee
  • [17] Laliotis defends plans to assign road network projects to private investors
  • [18] Gasoline prices fall
  • [19] Greece and Turkey further cooperation in farming
  • [20] OTE expects profits exceeding 400 billion drachmas in Balkan markets
  • [21] Greek stocks reverse three-day rally, end sharply lower
  • [22] Premier, merchant marine minister to discuss policy issues
  • [23] Commercial Bank of Greece's new board holds first meeting
  • [24] OTE elected a member of the European Foundation for Quality Management
  • [25] Archaeologists discover human skeletons and urns in Mycenaean vaulted tomb
  • [26] Australia to return stolen ancient Greek artifacts
  • [27] EU veterinary committee orders restrictive measures against foot-and-mouth disease in Evros
  • [28] Rhodes patrol boat picks up 130 illegal immigrants
  • [29] Well-preserved remains of giant prehistoric elephant unearthed
  • [30] Clerides issues message on occasion of anniversaries of coup and Turkish invasion of Cyprus
  • [31] Turkish Cypriots stage mass protest against Denktash

  • [01] Simitis says Cyprus issue is at a stage of possible developments

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Wednesday the Greek government believes the Cyprus issue is at a stage of possible developments, adding that it will continue to work indefatigably, as it has over the past four years, to facilitate substantive progress which will distance stereotypes and inflexibilities of the past, and even more so now that the accession course of Cyprus is becoming all the more discernible at present.

    In a message on the 26th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Simitis said 26 years later the division of the island is continuing in an illegal and arbitrary fashion and despite relevant UN resolutions. He added that the forced and tragic division of the island republic has an adverse effect on Greece's relations with Turkey, despite certain steps of progress taken in the past year.

    "We have repeatedly stated on every opportunity, at all the international organizations and international fora, and in our bilateral contacts with the neighboring country, that the full normalization of Greek-Turkish relations passes through the settlement of an overall, just, permanent, viable and workable solution to the problem of Cyprus," he said.

    Simitis said the elements for a solution to the tragedy of Cyprus are contained in the texts of a series of UN Security Council decisions which, among others, anticipate the establishment of a bizonal, bicommunal federation having one sovereignty and one international identity, one citizenship and with independence and territorial integrity safeguarded without the presence of illegal foreign troops.

    "The Cyprus issue is always the focal point of our attention and activity. We are moving ahead with determination and optimism for its solution, as well as for the completion of Cyprus' accession to the European Union. Helsinki is showing precisely the way which can secure a peaceful course in Cyprus," Simitis said.

    "We continue to look forward to Turkey's cooperation for a final settlement of the problem. It is in the interest of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots to show appropriate disposition and to dare those necessary steps for a substantive breakthrough in talks which have been dragging on for years," he added.

    Greece is always by the side of Cyprus, Stephanopoulos says: In his message, President Kostis Stephanopoulos said Greece is always by the side of Cyprus, offering its own positive contribution to this major national issue of primary importance.

    President Stephanopoulos said that 26 years after the Turkish invasion the problem of Cyprus remains unsolved and illegal Turkish military occupation is continuing.

    "The wish of all is for there to be a positive result based on the rules of international law, the Security Council's framework of decisions. The mediators should convince the representatives of the other (Turkish) side to accept solutions meeting the above principles in order to enable a positive and viable solution to the problem to be achieved," he said.

    In a letter addressed to the Cyprus House of Representatives President Spyros Kyprianou, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis stressed Greece's undivided support and its steadfast decision to back the cause of Cyprus with all its strength and at all international forums.

    "Greece remains bent on a just, permanent and viable solution to the problem," Kaklamanis said.

    Turkish intentions on relations with Greece, EU, being tested in Cyprus, Karamanlis says: "Turkey's true intentions as to its relations with Greece and the European Union are being tested in Cyprus," main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said in his message.

    "The Cyprus issue is the precondition for Greek-Turkish relations, which must and can pass into the stage of frank cooperation," Karamanlis said, adding, however, that "the keys to resolution of the problem lie in Ankara, a fact which must neither be ignored nor underestimated."

    Karamanlis also warned that the "faits accomplis of violence" not only remained unshaken but also were constantly being reinforced.

    "The Turkish side is constantly stepping up its demands at every concession by the Republic of Cyprus, putting forward new demands. The result is that the gap caused by the invasion is growing instead of being bridged," the ND leader said, adding that the occupation forces "at times with killings, and at times with advancement of its positions, systematically provoke not only Hellenism but also the international community, the European Union and the United Nations."

    He said the current situation in Cyprus was at the expense of all the inhabitants of the island, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike, and constituted a "disgrace for the civilized world".

    It was also "tangible proof of the deviousness and expansionist intentions prevailing in the extremist decision-taking centers of Ankara" and "reveals Turkey's true position vis-a-vis international law, international lawful order" and the principles governing Europe, Karamanlis said.

    The ND leader called on all Greeks, "in the face of the continuing Turkish intransigence, to unite our voices and coordinate our efforts in a common and effective strategy".

    He warned that the "tactic of unilateral retreating and concessions has failed", and renewed his call for the establishment of a Foreign Policy Council "in order to join forces and efforts in a uniform and long-term strategy".

    An announcement by the Coalition of the Left and Progress said "the principles of the independent Republic of Cyprus should be confirmed again with a single sovereignty, one nationality and one international identity, while the human and political rights of all Cypriots, both of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, should be safeguarded."

    In another message, Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas warned that "there can be no just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem before the final Turkish soldier or colonist has departed from the island.

    He said it was time that the political leaderships in Greece and Cyprus realized that "the policy of constant concessions has only made Turkish intransigence more insolent instead of diminishing it, and encourages the plans for partition the partition of Cyprus being advanced by the major powers of the West, covertly or overtly, through the solution of a confederation".

    [02] Simitis briefs President on domestic and foreign policy matters

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Wednesday briefed President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos on all current matters of domestic and foreign policy.

    After the meeting, Simitis told reporters that the government's policy focused on three basic directions: development, a social state, and raising the country's international standing, with the Cyprus issue at the forefront.

    Regarding the social state, Simitis said that the government sought social dialogue and considered it necessary, adding that discussion on health issues would begin shortly.

    Asked if he and the President had discussed the issue of the identity cards, Simitis replied that "we discuss everything".

    Before entering the Presidential Mansion for the meeting, Simitis said in reply to press questions that the government's target was to combat unemployment and increase employment, adding that all sides -- employers, workers and the state -- must contribute to the effort.

    He said that labor minister Tasos Giannitsis was due to hold talks later in the day with representatives of the GSEE General Confederation of Workers of Greece on those issues.

    Stephanopoulos said unemployment was a "major social problem", and wished the government success in its effort in that field.

    [03] Simitis addresses PASOK meeting

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    Prime Minister and PASOK leader Costas Simitis in an address to party delegates on Wednesday night, referred to such issues as labor relations, relations between the Church and the state and the role of the state.

    Dignitaries who do not belong to PASOK but who closed ranks with it during the election campaign also attended the meeting.

    Throughout his address, Simitis spoke of "confrontations, which are necessary to enable Greece to enter the new era with potential". He said that without confrontations there is no change.

    "With compromise we are led nowhere and we should not fear confrontations. Otherwise, let the conservatives come and rule," he said.

    Speaking on relations between the Church and the state, Simitis referred to the need to "recognize the supremacy of reason over myth and superstition", adding that the progressive forces of the present age did not "believe in the messianism of professional revolutionaries and other saviors who want to take the fate of the country into their hands".

    Simitis also referred to developments taking place in the labor sector saying that in the years to come the structures of the new state will be erected and reforms will take place in the health and social insurance sectors, while the network against poverty and exclusion will be shaped.

    He also commented on the role of the state, saying that what is sought is a state, which will resemble a headquarters and announced change in administration, which is, as he said, at the core of the pursuit of progressive governance.

    Simitis further referred to the joint mobilization of social groups and personalities with PASOK, adding that wider consensuses were necessary which would exceed the usual party audience.

    [04] Greek, Turkish foreign ministers to meet next month

    ISTANBUL, 20/07/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    The foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey will schedule a meeting in August, a spokesman for the Turkish foreign ministry announced in Ankara on Wednesday.

    The two ministers, Greece's George Papandreou and Turkey's Ismail Cem, met as recently as last week in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), whereas the latest developments in Greek-Turkish relations will be discussed in August, the Turkish spokesman said.

    The exact date and place for the meeting will be announced in the next few weeks.

    [05] Federal Republic of Germany strikes back, freezing order to seize its property

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    Germany froze a Greek court decision to seize German state property in Greece on Wednesday by filing a petition that will delay the process of appraisal by court bailiffs until September 1.

    A court in Livadia, central Greece had found in favor of 214 Distomo villagers murdered by German occupation forces during World War II, ordering Germany to pay 9.4 billion drachmas in compensation or for German state property to be seized and auctioned. The Athens Supreme Court upheld the decision last April.

    Appraisals of the properties by court bailiffs, which included the Goethe Institut in Athens, the German Archaeological School and a German high school, were blocked on Wednesday when the attorneys representing Germany, Stephanos Delikostopoulos and Lambros Synaniotis, filed a petition in a primary Athens court against the Viotia local government and the 296 relatives of the slain victims who had filed the suit, asking for a stay of execution of the Livadia court's decision.

    In its petition, the German Federal Republic said that the decision to carry out the ruling by the Livadia court was invalid because the consent of the justice minister was required for the seizure of foreign assets and had not been obtained.

    Justice Alexandros Savvas accepted the request and issued a temporary order suspending the decision until the petition is heard on September 1.

    The German state has also exercised its rights to request the suspension of other rulings, and these petitions will be heard on October 2, 2001.

    The German side has argued that the justice minister's permission is absolutely imperative because the forcible execution is directed against German state property, which serves public aims and is not open to negotiation and seizure.

    Continuing the process, the petition says, will cause irreparable damage and danger and severely damage the international image of Germany and its relations with Greece at a time when European Union member-states are obliged to maintain and promote good relations.

    Earlier on Wednesday, Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas had said that the government's positions on German war reparations remained unchanged.

    "The matter is very delicate and requires responsible handling. We have to deal with it in political terms," he said.

    [06] Justice minister: No discussions over IDs, German war reparations in meeting with PM

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    The country's justice minister said following a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Wednesday that the two most controversial issues within his portfolio - new state-issued ID cards devoid of the religious affiliation category and court-mandated German war reparations - were not discussed.

    Rather, Minister Mihalis Stathopoulos simply noted that the issue of filling vacant judges' positions was discussed before Friday's Cabinet meeting.

    The government reiterated this week that its decision to proceed with the issuance of new police ID cards that exclude the listing of religious affiliation and citizenship, among others, does not sever ties with the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece. A relevant circular by the public order and finance ministries has instructed authorities at police stations on how to issue the new IDs.

    The government's decision to issue new ID cards without the religion category has dramatically soured Church-state relations and sparked a firestorm of criticism by the Church of Greece's hierarchy and conservative religious groups, highlighted by two major rallies in Athens and Thessaloniki. Church leaders, led by outspoken Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, have demanded a referendum over the issue of whether citizens can retain the option of listing their religion.

    As per the war reparations issue, Stathopoulos said the courts will decide whether the justice minister's approval is necessary to implement a Supreme Court ruling allowing for the seizure German state properties in Greece, the result of various lower and appellate decisions granting compensation to the relatives of the victims of a mass execution perpetrated by Nazi troops in occupied central Greece in 1944.

    [07] Reppas says government wants dialogue to regulate Church property

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    In response to questions regarding the Church's property, Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas on Wednesday said that the government had repeatedly stressed the need for institutional dialogue between the State and Church to find a common meeting ground for the two sides.

    The issue of Church property is one of the matters up for discussion, the spokesman said.

    The government, Reppas said, wishes institutional dialogue between the Church and State to take place in an organized fashion and as quickly as possible. In any case, he added, the Church is the one that wants to begin dialogue, according to the statements of Church leaders.

    The spokesman also seconded the statements by Deputy Press Minister Telemachos Hytiris on Tuesday, saying that "we do not need to turn back because the past is not an object of involuntary worship."

    [08] Simitis briefed by Athens 2004 leadership prior to contacts with IOC

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    The head of the Athens 2004 organizing committee told reporters on Wednesday after a meeting with Greek PM Costas Simitis that organizers are "moving with determination to solve all problems."

    Gianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki, who led the Greek capital's campaign to host the 2004 Olympic Games and recently was tapped as president of the 2004 organizing committee, said "we're proceeding, being aware of all the difficulties, but with determination and with the ability to solve the (Olympics-related) problems."

    Angelopoulou-Daskalaki was responding to a question over whether Athens' hosting of the Games was in peril.

    The well-known attorney and one-time MP will join the rest of the 2004 top executives in traveling to Lausanne on Thursday for contacts with the International Olympics Committee's leadership, including IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch and the president of the International Olympic Committee's coordination committee, Jacques Rogge.

    Last April, the powerful IOC chief tersely said that the Athens 2004 summer games would be in "danger" unless Greek organizers made "drastic" changes by the end of the year, raising eyebrows in the Greek capital and leading to a subsequent shake-up of the organizing committee's leadership.

    In response to another press question over her office's working relationship with various ministers, Angelopoulou-Daskalaki said cooperation was at a very good level.

    Pangalos notes progress in preparations for 2004: Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos on Wednesday dismissed suggestions that "foreign centers" were set on undermining Greece's organizational effort for the Olympic Games of 2004, and said that preparations were making good progress.

    "I believe that such media rumors originate in Athens," he told reporters, whom he jokingly exhorted to follow-up on any scenarios they started so that he might not miss the end of the story.

    "I ask you to be more careful in your commentaries on such matters, which might have an adverse effect on the organization of the Olympics," he added.

    Pangalos further noted that the legal framework for the functioning of the Athens 2004 company -the organizers- as well as for the security plan, and the drafting of the security plan had been completed.

    He said good progress was also being made regarding the equestrian events center, staffing of Athens 2004 with personnel who will attend the Sydney Olympics this summer, and the finalization of hospitality arrangements with the signing of the relevant agreement by hoteliers.

    Further, five bids for the selection of the host broadcaster, submitted by ISB, BBC, RAI, TVRS and the Studio Hamburg-Media Consult French consortium, will be considered until July 30 and negotiations will follow. Final decisions regarding the construction of one or more 'Media Villages' would also be made by the end of the month, Pangalos said.

    [09] Planning for the Athens 2004 Olympics is right on track, Australian sports official says

    MELBOURNE, 20/07/2000 (ANA-S. Hatzimanolis)

    Greece's planning for the 2004 Olympic Games is "right on track", and the recent foreign media criticism of Athens' preparations for the Games following International Olympic Committee (IOC) criticism was "unjust and wrong", former chairman of the Australian football federation David Hill said in an article appearing in "The Australian Financial Review" daily, which recently published an article criticizing the Greek capital.

    Hill said that foreign media claims of chaos in the 2004 preparations were untrue, conceding that although there indeed were some delays, Athens had time on its side, with four years still ahead to organize the 2004 Games.

    He said this was not the first time that the International Olympic Committee had publicly criticized an organizing city, noting that such criticism had also been vented on Atlanta and Sydney, host of the 2000 Games.

    In his article, Hill notes that 75 percent of the athletic installations for the Athens games were already completed, with the Greek capital also had a modern Olympic Stadium and, in essence, "is in a much better position that Sydney had been four years before" the 2000 Games.

    He also pointed out that Athens will have a new international airport as of next year, which Sydney does not, and noted the new Athens Metro.

    Hill further stressed that Athens has experience in organizing major athletic events "which it has hosted with exceptional success", such as the World Athletic Championships.

    "We don't have the slightest doubt that Athens will successfully organize the Games," Hill said.

    [10] Apostolakis to meet his US counterpart

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    Deputy Defense Minister Dimitris Apostolakis will meet this week with his US counterpart Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Frank Kramer at the annual Greek-US High-Level Consultative Committee (HLCC), which takes place in Washington D.C. this year, a US embassy press release said Wednesday.

    Apostolakis left Tuesday for the US for the three-day HLCC meeting that opens Wednesday in the US capital.

    "This is a chance for the Greek and American sides to sit down together, evaluate the progress of defense cooperation, discuss developments in southeast Europe, and think of new ways the two countries can work together to build regional stability," US ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns said.

    Also up for discussion is the treaty government US military personnel in Greece, the press release added.

    During his stay in the US, Apostolakis will also visit Wichita, Kansas, for the first delivery of the T-6 Texan trainer aircraft. The Hellenic Air Force has ordered 32 of the planes, which are made by the US arms company Raytheon.

    [11] New French ambassador to arrive in Athens on Thursday

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    The new French Ambassador to Greece, Jean-Maurice Ripert, will be arriving in Athens on Thursday according to an announcement by the French Embassy in Athens.

    Ripert, until now a diplomatic advisor to French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, is a graduate of the Institut d' Etudes Politiques and the Ecole Nationale d' Administration.

    Prior to becoming the French premier's advisor in 1997, Ripert had served as a deputy director of the foreign ministry's office for the United Nations and international organizations, and as General Consul in Los Angeles in 1993-1996.

    [12] New U.S. General Consul in Thessaloniki

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    John Kening has taken up his new duties as the new U.S. General Consul in Thessaloniki.

    Prior to his new appointment, he served as a political adviser at the U.S. Embassy in Athens and earlier he was at his country's diplomatic mission in Cyprus.

    Kening called on Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Paschalidis on Wednesday and told him that his country supports Thessaloniki's role as a center for the development and reconstruction of the region of southeastern Europe.

    [13] Karamanlis blasts gov't over its handling of wildfires

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday sharply criticized the government over last week's spate of wildfires throughout Greece.

    Karamanlis made the comments while touring several fire-ravaged villages in the mountainous portion of Corinth prefecture, west of Athens.

    The ND leader called last week's references by authorities to "extreme weather conditions" as the cause of many wildfires an "easy excuse... especially when the prime minister himself had been warned by the European Union and relevant Greek authorities".

    He also charged that the PASOK government lacks environmental sensitivity and even a rudimentary policy for forestlands, before detailing a series of facts regarding EU-subsidized reforestation projects and initiatives. He also said coordination of fire-fighting efforts was deficient and called for the reorganization of ground forces.

    Following his briefing by the prefect of Corinth, Karamanlis called the destruction wrought by the wildfires in the Greece the worst ever, and with half the summer season remaining.

    Finally, in regards to state compensation towards property owners, Karamanlis lambasted what he called delays and red tape, adding that instances of bribery towards bureaucrats to facilitate the quick approval of compensation are intolerable.

    [14] Greek European Commissioner in Dublin for talks with Irish government members

    DUBLIN, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    European Union Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou was due to arrive in Dublin on Wednesday for a series of meetings with members of the Irish government.

    Diamantopoulou's talks will focus on the Commission's new social policy agenda, the National Employment Action Plan, the French EU Presidency's social programmed, equality and gender and positive actions for women and children.

    Later in the evening, Diamantopoulou was due to attend a dinner at which she will have the opportunity of meeting with social partner representatives.

    On Thursday morning, Diamantopoulou will deliver an address at the Irish Institute for European Affairs under the title "The European Social Model-Past its sell-by date?"

    [15] Labor ministry, unions discuss terms of dialogue

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    Labor and Social Security Minister Tassos Giannitsis began a round of exploratory talks with workers' unions on Wednesday to discuss the terms of a dialogue aimed to promote a more flexible labor market in the country.

    GSEE, the country's largest union umbrella, demanded a dialogue on conditions. GSEE's chairman, Christos Polyzogopoulos, said after the meeting that the union could accept only a bilateral dialogue with the government and under specific terms.

    He noted that the union would not discuss more flexible working hours, lifting a 2.0 percent ceiling on group lay-offs and plans for more flexible labor relations.

    Polyzogopoulos said GSEE could accept discussion on subsidizing employers' contributions, reducing overtime work and implementing a 35-hour working week.

    He warned, however, that any unilateral surprise move by the government could lead to social tensions.

    Labor and Social Security Minister, Tassos Giannitsis said that the ministry wanted a wide agenda of nine general principles aimed at boosting employment and reducing unemployment as a framework of discussions. These included: fiscal, incomes and anti-inflationary policy, structural policies and competitiveness, promoting the business culture, measures for high unemployment areas, creating a safety net to avoid social seclusion and poverty.

    He said that the dialogue would begin on bilateral basis and expressed the hope that it could be completed by autumn to have enough time for any last minute legislative adjustments.

    Giannitsis is expected to meeting with employers' union in the next few days.

    Opposition MPs table draft bill for 35-hour week in parliament: Six Coalition of the Left and Progress' deputies on Wednesday tabled a draft bill in parliament for the implementation for a 35-hour working week without cutting workers' income.

    The draft bill's recommendation report argues that implementing a 35-hour week would efficiently help in reducing unemployment and predicts that 130,000 new jobs could be created and another 50,000 jobs could be saved through a general implementation of the measure.

    The report also says that according to a survey by the Labor Institute of Greece's largest union umbrella GSEE, the increase on production cost is estimated at 1-2 percent.

    The six MPs urge for the implementation of the measure from January 1, 2000 for all state enterprises, banks, the public sector and capital raising and technology companies from the private sector.

    From January 1, 2001 for all private sector companies with more than 10 employees, and from January 1, 2002 for all private sector companies with less than 10 employees.

    The report notes that the French and Italian governments have already implemented a 35-hour working week without cutting workers' income.

    [16] EU committee

    OKs Greek funds for 2000-2006

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    The European Union's regional development and restructuring committee has unanimously approved Greece's portion of the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF) package of funds, the national economy ministry said on Wednesday.

    The package comprises 16 trillion drachmas in funds for 2000-2006, the ministry said in a statement.

    Deputy National Economy Minister Christos Pahtas said that the committee's recommendation marked the start of projects under the development scheme, the largest the country has known.

    Projects to be carried out under the CSF would narrow the gap with EU members richer than Greece, he added.

    [17] Laliotis defends plans to assign road network projects to private investors

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    A government decision to assign the construction of road network projects to private investors is an action of justice, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis said on Wednesday.

    He was adamant, however, that the government was not giving anything away to contractors and said that any such talk was misinformation based on ignorance.

    "We are not giving anything in advance to contractors. This paranoia should end. Everything will be done through an international tender and with full transparency," he said.

    Laliotis said the government's decision would facilitate the Greek state, which in many cases lacked the necessary funding for projects.

    The reconstruction of a national road linking Corinth and Patras is expected to cost around 250 billion drachmas. The Greek state will offer 50 billion drachmas and the remaining sum will be raised by the consortia to build the road, either through own funds or through lending.

    The consortia will pay back this capital through a deal to operate road tolls for a period of 10 years at prices to be agreed with the government.

    Laliotis said the government, in order to reduce the time of private operation of road tolls, could also offer revenues from existing road tolls.

    Projects likely to be included in the plan were road sections in the Athens-Efzoni network, and a bridge linking Malliakos Bay in central Greece.

    Road tolls seen rising by maximum Dr 15 in road building scheme: A financial advisor in the government's plan to award road-building concessions to private developers in return for motor-way tolls has recommended a maximum rise to 15 drachmas per kilometer on the current tariff, Deputy National Economy Minister Christos Pahtas said on Wednesday.

    The ceiling would not represent a unified toll policy for all sections of the roads to be built, and was subject to further study, Pahtas said in a statement.

    The road building projects fall under the European Union's 3rd Community Support Framework package of funds for 2000-2006.

    Sections of highway so far slated for private construction and operation form part of roads linking Larissa to Klidi, Antirrio to Ioannina, Athens to Corinth and Patras, and Corinth to Kalamata.

    Tenders for the projects will be handled by the government's financial consultant.

    In addition, a bill will be drawn up allowing the concession arrangement, which will also be used for the construction of railway infrastructure, marinas, ports etc., Pahtas said.

    The use of concession arrangements will shift the cost of construction to the private sector, the minister added.

    [18] Gasoline prices fall

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    The Development Ministry and Hellenic Petroleum, the country's largest refiner, have announced new fuel prices as of Thursday, in line with changes in international prices.

    Super gasoline and lead-free gasoline will be 3.40 drs/lt and 3.50 drs/lt cheaper respectively in the Athens and Thessaloniki areas.

    Diesel and heating fuel, by contrast, are going up by 2.60 drs/lt and 5.40 drs/lt respectively.

    Development Ministry calls for checks on fuel prices: Deputy Development Minister Milena Apostolaki on Wednesday sent a circular to prefectural authorities, calling for checks on the observance of indicative gasoline prices issued by the ministry on a weekly basis.

    She said there was evidence to suggest that considerable price reductions in the last three weeks had not been fully passed on to the consumer.

    [19] Greece and Turkey further cooperation in farming

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    Greece and Turkey have announced progress on consultations regarding the joint tackling of problems the agricultural sector, in line with the protocol on technical, scientific and economic cooperation signed by the two countries' agriculture ministers on June 22, 2000.

    A joint coordinating committee, which met in Athens on July 17 and 18, examined draft agreements for the exchange of information and experts in cases of animal or crop diseases likely to spread across borders, and agreed on the promotion of joint research programs.

    [20] OTE expects profits exceeding 400 billion drachmas in Balkan markets

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) assesses that profits it will gain until 2003 from its activities in Balkan markets will exceed one billion dollars or 400 billion drachmas.

    According to the organization, this development creates a considerable advantage for it in relation to permanent competition. Regarding Romania, where it has entered ROM TELECOM, the latter's profits amounted to 62 million dollars over the first half of the current year.

    In Armenia, they amounted to 4.2 million dollars in the first quarter of 2000, while in 2003 they are expected to exceed 77 million dollars.

    [21] Greek stocks reverse three-day rally, end sharply lower

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended sharply lower on Wednesday, reversing a three-day rally which pushed the market 5.0 percent higher, as investors rushed in to take profits on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Shares in the smaller capitalization, construction and leasing sectors were particularly hit, while banks resisted pressures.

    The general index ended 1.42 percent lower at 4,044.13 points, off the day's highs of 4,128.70 and the day's lows of 4.022.74 points.

    Turnover was a low 74.6 billion drachmas. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 1.03 percent lower at 2,257.78 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index dropped 2.54 percent to 575.17 points.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 7,727.58

    -0.96% Leasing: 798.52 -3.39% Insurance: 2,543.89

    -0.14% Investment: 1,665.53 -1.70% Construction: 2,173.49 -3.14% Industrials: 2,491.48 -1.88% Miscellaneous: 4,085.74 -2.22% Holding: 4,410.71


    The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 4.63 percent lower at 751.78 points.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 310 to 30 with another four issues unchanged.

    Alter, Doudos, Hellenic Telecoms, Panafon, Dionik, Informer and Daios were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): National Bank: 14,050 Alpha Bank: 14,200 Commercial Bank: 16,000 Eurobank: 9,600 Lambrakis Press: 10,190 Heracles Cement: 7,505 Titan Cement (c): 13,620 Hellenic Telecoms: 8,075 Panafon: 4,155 Hellenic Petroleum: 3,900 Attica Enterprises: 3,705 Intracom: 13,220 Minoan Lines: 3,620 Hellenic Bottling: 5,295

    Equity futures drop, tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Wednesday, in line with the indices on which they are based.

    The underlying FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 1.03 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 2.54 percent lower.

    Turnover was 11.32 billion drachmas from 14.32 billion drachmas a day earlier.

    A total of 1,246 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 5.65 billion drachmas.

    On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 2,459 contracts changed hands on turnover of 5.67 billion drachmas.

    Bonds drop in scant trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Wednesday finished down in thin trade.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.12 percent, the same as in the previous session.

    The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 79 basis points, also the same as a day earlier.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 34 billion drachmas from 46 billion drachmas in the previous trading session.

    Sell orders accounted for 26 billion drachmas of turnover.

    Drachma up vs. euro, down vs. dollar: The drachma on Wednesday rose against the euro and fell against the rampant US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.

    At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 336.550 drachmas from 336.620 drachmas in the previous session.

    Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 364.800 drachmas from 360.050 drachmas a day earlier.

    [22] Premier, merchant marine minister to discuss policy issues

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis will meet with Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday to discuss policy issues and to assess the ministry's work in the first 100 days under its new leadership.

    "I will present my next goals and we will assess my first 100 days in office," Papoutsis told reporters on Wednesday.

    He said the ministry was following a policy agreed by the cabinet and noted that during the meeting the two men would discuss shipping safety measures.

    "There will be coordination because the issues of shipping safety and marine environment protection will be handled by the prime minister himself," Papoutsis said.

    He said that the ministry has accepted an offer by the municipality of Alexandroupolis, northern Greece, to build a port police academy in the city.

    [23] Commercial Bank of Greece's new board holds first meeting

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    The board of Commercial Bank of Greece on Wednesday held its first meeting chaired by governor Yiannis Stournaras, formerly the national economy ministry's chief economic adviser.

    A parliamentary committee has endorsed the appointment by the government of Stournaras, who also becomes the state banks managing director.

    Commercial's new deputy governor is George Mihelis, until now the bank's general director.

    Stournaras reportedly told the board that the listed bank's new strategy was based on its alliance with Credit Agricole of France, which has bought a minor stake in the Greek unit.

    Emphasis will be placed on investment banking, real estate asset management and banc assurance. It is also to focus on Internet and phone services, he said.

    Commercial is the country's fourth largest banking group with a market share of about 10 percent. It has more than 380 branches around the country.

    [24] OTE elected a member of the European Foundation for Quality Management

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) has been elected a member of the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM).

    The EFQM is a non-profit organization established in 1988 by the 14 presidents of the biggest European businesses and organizations with support by the European Commission with the purpose of contributing to the promotion of overall quality management in the European Union.

    Its founding members include such companies as British Tele-com, Olivetti, Philips and Bosch. It currently has about 930 members.

    [25] Archaeologists discover human skeletons and urns in Mycenaean vaulted tomb

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    Archaeologists made a considerable find near the Kladeos River at Ancient Olympia in past days when they discovered human skeletons and 100 urns dating back to the Mycenaean era in the 13th vaulted tomb they have unearthed.

    According to archaeologists' assessments, it is one of the rarest and most important discoveries to be made in the Ileia prefecture, in the Peloponnese, in past years due to both the quantity and value of the artifacts found.

    Excavations are continuing in the region since there are serious indications that many more vaulted tombs exist having a considerable content.

    The region where the ancient tombs have been discovered is being guarded by a strong police force since Tuesday.

    [26] Australia to return stolen ancient Greek artifacts

    MELBOURNE, 20/07/2000 (ANA-S. Hatzimanolis)

    The Australian government will return to Greece an impressive collection of 33 objects of ancient Greek art stolen from Greece and sold by antiquities smugglers in Australia, it was announced Wednesday.

    The antiquities, which were recovered by the Australian Federal Police, will be turned over by Australia's minister of fine arts to Greek culture ministry secretary general Lina Mendoni during a ceremony in Melbourne on Friday.

    Two years ago, during the opening of the Melbourne Museum of Greek Antiquities, then Victoria State premier Jeff Kennet had turned over to four ancient Greek urns to the Greece's culture minister at the time, Evangelos Venizelos.

    Mendoni arrives in Melbourne on Thursday from Sydney, where she and New South Wales premier Bob Carr inaugurated an exhibition of unique ancient Greek artifacts at the Powerhouse Museum as part of a series of events coinciding with Sydney's hosting of the 2000 Olympics.

    The exhibition, entitled "1,000 Years of Olympic Games: Treasures of Ancient Greece", comprises some 50 collections, all featuring an Olympics theme and is Greece's "official offering" for the Sydney Olympiad.

    More than 1,000 people, including numerous Australian dignitaries, attended the opening of the exhibition, which Carr described as "the best exhibit of ancient treasures ever to be presented in Australia".

    [27] EU veterinary committee orders restrictive measures against foot-and-mouth disease in Evros

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    The European Union's permanent veterinary committee in Brussels, on Wednesday decided to impose restrictive measures on the northern Greek region of Evros, and partial restrictions on neighboring Rodopi and Xanthi, to contain an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease among cattle in the area.

    The committee has banned the transport of livestock from the three areas to the rest of Greece and other EU countries, while for Evros it has also banned the transport of meat and dairy products that have not been subjected to heat treatment and have not matured.

    The decision recognizes that Greece has already taken measures to contain the disease but notes that the situation in certain areas of Greece, namely Xanthi and Rodopi, demands additional protective measures. Greece has voted against the committee's decision.

    Finally, the veterinary committee decided to provide Turkish authorities with 1.5 million vaccinations to deal with incidents of foot-and-mouth in eastern Thrace.

    In Greece, meanwhile, more than 1,500 head of infected or suspect cattle have been destroyed since Saturday in Evros to try to check the spread of the epidemic to within the monitoring zone. Local vets estimate that a total of 2,000 animals will eventually have to be put down, while herds of goats and sheep that were in close contact with the infected cattle will also be destroyed as a precautionary measure.

    Cattle breeders will receive between 370,000 drachmas to 500,000 drachmas per animal as compensation, depending on the breed. Sheep and goat breeders will also receive compensation linked to type.

    The Agricultural Cooperatives Unions of Alexandroupolis and Soufli have written to Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis, asking him to make a commitment that full compensation will be given to cheese makers in Evros for damages incurred because of the disease.

    The Evros Veterinary department, meanwhile, on Wednesday repeated its announcement that the disease is not transmitted to people, who are also not at risk from consuming products from infected animals provided these have undergone heat treatment that destroys the virus.

    According to preliminary estimates, the disease probably spread to Greece from Turkey, where outbreaks of a similar virus have been reported.

    Foot-and-mouth disease is rapidly transmitted and during the last outbreak in Thrace in 1994-98, 150,000 animals had to be put down.

    [28] Rhodes patrol boat picks up 130 illegal immigrants

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    A Rhodes patrol boat late on Wednesday night towed into the island's main harbor a small vessel which was carrying 130 illegal immigrants.

    The Turkish "BURG" craft was located south of Rhodes, in the region of Lahania, and was intercepted. It was carrying mostly women and children. The two Turkish migrant traffickers were arrested.

    Most of the illegal immigrants were of Kurdish origin, from Iraq, Iran and Pakistan.

    [29] Well-preserved remains of giant prehistoric elephant unearthed

    Athens, 20/07/2000 (ANA)

    The remains of a huge ancestor to the modern-day elephant were uncovered in a field in northern Greece recently, a find scientists said might be the best-preserved skeleton of the species ever unearthed.

    Paleontologists reunited the recently discovered cranium and a massive jaw of a mastodon identified as the "Mammut Borsoni" with the remains of two pre-historic pachyderms found three years ago at the Milia region of Grevena prefecture, west of Thessaloniki.

    Scientists said the better-preserved of the two finds was probably a male, standing some 4.5 meters tall and weighing more than 12 tones. Additionally, the mastodon roamed what is modern-day northern Greece three million years ago.

    Similar pre-historic behemoths have been discovered in other parts of Greece as well, including at the Vathylakkos site of Thessaloniki prefecture (remains estimated at nine million years old), eastern Attica prefecture, the island of Samos, southern Evia island, as well as in other European countries - Slovenia, Moldova, France, Hungary and even Russian Siberia.

    Excavations began in Grevena in 1992 and are overseen today by a team of paleontologists from Thessaloniki's Aristotelian University's geology and physical geography department.

    [30] Clerides issues message on occasion of anniversaries of coup and Turkish invasion of Cyprus

    NICOSIA, 20/07/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides said on Wednesday the Greek Cypriot side would be attending talks on the Cyprus problem ready to negotiate seriously, with courage and flexibility, depending on the stand of the representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community.

    In a message on the occasion of the anniversaries of the coup and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, President Clerides expressed hope that the international community would succeed this time in persuading Ankara to acquire the political will required to resolve the Cyprus problem.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied the northern third of the island. Two rounds of proximity talks were held since December 1999, aimed at preparing the ground for substantive negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement. The third round of proximity talks will resume on July 24 in Geneva.

    President Clerides said that "reviewing the consequences of the Turkish invasion, which occurred after the coup staged by the junta against the legitimate government of the Republic of Cyprus", there were certain "political effects, "besides the infinite human suffering it has caused".

    Listing these effects, the president said that "as a result of the ethnic cleansing enforced by the Turkish army of occupation, about one third of all Greek Cypriots were uprooted from their ancestral homes and continue to this day to be refugees in their own country", and "at the same time, a large number of Turkish Cypriots, who lived in the free areas of the Republic of Cyprus, were forced to move to the Turkish occupied area".

    He said "the fundamental freedoms and human rights of both the Greek and Turkish Cypriots have been violated outright by the Turkish leadership" and "at the same time, our Turkish Cypriot compatriots have been turned into a minority in the occupied area, having been forced to emigrate".

    President Clerides noted that the Turkish Cypriots were forced to emigrate for two reasons, "first, because of the military, political, economic and social conditions prevailing there and secondly, because of the illegal colonization of the occupied territories of the Republic of Cyprus by Turks from Anatolia, Turkey, in accordance with the official policy of Ankara".

    "In accordance with the same policy, the destruction of the historic and cultural character of the Turkish-occupied area continues", he said.

    The president added that "the anniversaries of the coup and Turkish invasion give us the opportunity to draw some lessons", that is "first, there must be total respect for democratic institutions and a substantive dialogue between all the political forces, and tolerance of the opposite point of view, but also mutual understanding with the aim of achieving consensus where this is possible", while "passions, hatreds, pettiness and extremes should have no room in our political life".

    The second lesson is that "the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities must realize that we must work hard to build a common and bright future for the benefit of all the inhabitants of Cyprus and not insist on adhering to anachronistic attitudes and methods".

    Referring to the UN-led proximity talks, President Clerides said "we are attending the talks, as representatives of the Greek Cypriot side, ready to negotiate seriously, with courage and flexibility, depending on the stand of the representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community", adding that "it is our fervent desire to see a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem achieved the soonest possible".

    He expressed hope that "the international community, particularly the countries which are in a position to exert their influence on the Turkish side, will succeed this time in persuading Ankara to acquire the political will required to resolve the Cyprus problem".

    "We must create, all together, new prospects for peace, stability and security on the basis of the UN resolutions and international law and legality so as to be able to enjoy the benefits of harmonious coexistence and cooperation within the European Union", he said.

    President Clerides reaffirmed that "until a solution is found, the Government of the Republic of Cyprus will continue its policy of strengthening the defense of the free areas" within the framework of the Joint Defense Pact between Cyprus and Greece.

    In his message, the president thanked the Greek government, political parties and people for their help " in our struggle, particularly in our diplomatic efforts to join the European Union and as regards the defense sector", and also expressed gratitude to all the overseas Greeks as well as to other foreign governments and personalities for their solidarity and active support.

    [31] Turkish Cypriots stage mass protest against Denktash

    NICOSIA, 20/07/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    A huge crowd of Turkish Cypriots protested on Tuesday in the Turkish-occupied part of Nicosia against the policies pursued by Rauf Denktash and called for his resignation demanding "Peace Now".

    The demonstration which numbered, according to the Turkish Cypriot press, 10,000 people was addressed by the leaders of the Republican Turkish Party (RTP), Mehmet Ali Talat, and Patriotic Union Movement (PUM) Izzet Izcan, while chief editor of Turkish Cypriot daily "Avroupa", Sener Levent also spoke to the crowd.

    Levent and three other "Avrupa" journalists were released on Tuesday by the illegal regime after being accused of alleged "espionage activities".

    The speakers talked against a package of economic austerity measures recommended by Ankara to its puppet regime in the northern part of Cyprus it illegally occupies since it invaded the island in 1974.

    They also spoke against the so-called commander of the illegal security forces, Brigadier Ali Nizat Ozeiranli and called for his removal.

    The Turkish Cypriot newspapers give full coverage of the protest on their front pages with titles such as "Huge demonstration, we are ten thousand people", "Denktash resign" and "This land is ours". They also point that slogans like "Denktash goes, peace comes", "No to fascism" and "Peace now" were heard at the protest.

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