|Sunday, 9 December 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-11-15
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Simitis meets Cyprus president in Athens to discuss UN-sponsored Cyprus talks
Athens, 15/11/2000 (ANA)Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Prime Minister Costas Simitis met in Athens on Tuesday to discuss developments during the 5th round of UN-sponsored Cyprus proximity talks in Geneva. Also present were the Cypriot and Greek foreign ministers, Ioannis Kasoulides and George Papandreou, respectively.
After the one-hour meeting, which Simitis described as warm and friendly, the Cypriot delegation attended a working dinner offered by the prime minister.
In statements to the press, the premier said that the Geneva talks "were developing positively in the direction of resolving the Cyprus problem," and noted that those who did not want the talks to continue were those who did not want a resolution of the Cyprus problem.
The objections of Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to continuing the talks, he added, were a sign that these were moving in a direction that did not suit the Turkish-Cypriot side. He once more reiterated that a solution to the Cyprus problem must be compatible with UN resolutions calling for a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with one nationality and one international legal personality on the island republic.
Simitis also noted that a solution to the Cyprus problem was a necessary condition for Greek friendship with Turkey and the full normalization of Greek-Turkish relations.
With regard to Cyprus accession to the European Union (EU), the prime minister repeated that Cyprus had made the most progress and was very close to becoming a member-state.
Finally, Simitis said that they had discussed upgrading bilateral cooperation in the context of the joint defense doctrine and noted that the Greek and Cypriot governments had identical views on handling issues of joint interest - particularly the Cyprus problem.
On his part, the Cyprus president thanked the Greek government for its support, "especially in everything related to securing the defense of the Cyprus Republic" and for issues concerning Cyprus' EU accession course. He also noted that Greece and Cyprus have the same policy on a resolution of the Cyprus problem.
Clerides stopped over in Athens to confer with the Greek government on his way back from the Geneva talks and is due to return to Nicosia on Tuesday afternoon.
Addressing an audience at Athens Agricultural University on Monday evening, Clerides had expressed optimism that the UN-led talks would eventually lead to the federation solution sought by the Greek-Cypriot side, while stressing that he would never accept a confederation on the island.
The Cyprus government spokesman also noted that, despite certain negative points, the non-paper presented to the two sides by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had addressed some of Nicosia's concerns and that "we must exploit [this] in order to return to the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation (solution)."
The 6th round of Cyprus talks is scheduled to begin in January, 2001.
 EU enlargement discussed by Stephanopoulos, Havel in Prague
PRAGUE, 15/11/2000 (ANA - N. Megadoukas)Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos continued his official visit here on Tuesday, as Czech President Vaclav Havel received him.
As expected, European Union enlargement was among the topics discussed, as the Czech Republic appears to be on the fast track for entry in any upcoming expansion. Stephanopoulos, meanwhile, reiterated Athens' standing support for the central European country's place in a united Europe.
The situation the Balkans, bilateral relations as well as Greek-Turkish relations were also discussed in light of Havel's recent state visit to Ankara. "... I'm not in a position to judge how great the differences between Greece and Turkey are," Havel said, adding nevertheless, that over the recent period both countries, "which are allies and allies of the Czech Republic... have substantially improved their relations."
While stressing that bilateral relations are excellent, both men pointed to prospects for expanded trade relations.
Havel also thanked the Greek president for Athens' support within the Union, the same support shown for the Czech Republic's accession to NATO a year and a half ago.
Additionally, Stephanopoulos said he hoped the recent shakeup in Yugoslavia would lend more stability to the Balkans.
He also invited Havel, a noted dissident and playwright in communist-era Czechoslovakia, to officially visit Greece.
Stephanopoulos says Greece follows realistic policy of rapprochement with Turkey: President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos reiterated here on Tuesday Greece's desire for a further improvement of its relations with Turkey "always on the basis of respect of international and of its sovereign rights."
He said Athens was ready for dialogue concerning referral of the Aegean continental shelf issue, "that is, the only Greek-Turkish difference," at the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
Addressing a dinner given in his honor on Tuesday evening by his Czech counterpart Vaclav Havel, Stephanopoulos said Greece follows "a realistic step by step policy of rapprochement with Turkey." The Greek president expressed the view that the Turkish candidacy for European Union entry will have positive repercussions for the promotion of democratic institutions and respect of human rights in the neighboring country and to a complete smoothing of Greek-Turkish relations, "elements that are necessary preconditions for Turkey's rapprochement with the EU."
Referring to the Cyprus issue, Stephanopoulos said that Greece worked on the basis of the UN resolutions for a just, peaceful and permanent settlement of the problem, "which is a problem of the military occupation of territory of an independent country and a source of tension and instability in the eastern Mediterranean."
Stephanopoulos expressed certainty that the future accession of the Czech Republic into the EU "will open new horizons in our bilateral relations."
Havel referred at length to Greek civilization, noting that the philosophical ideas of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle did not only constitute the foundations of philosophy, but also contributed to the development of other sciences.
President Havel gave emphasis to the fact that his country has become a NATO country and expressed the conviction that in the short-term, the Czech Republic will manage to fulfill its goal of joining the EU.
 Athens dismisses recent Cem comment regarding Cyprus
Athens, 15/11/2000 (ANA)Greece on Tuesday termed recent statements by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem regarding Cyprus as "unfortunate".
Cem recently claimed that the divided island republic could become a next Kosovo.
"Mr. Cem is offering poor services to the issue of solving the Cyprus problem," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said in Athens.
He also reiterated that Cyprus fulfill all the EU criteria for accession into the Union, where it should be admitted as a unified state with one international standing.
 Turkey does not meet Copenhagen criteria, Europarliament report says
STRASBOURG, 15/11/2000 (ANA - O. Tsipira)Turkey's efforts to enter the European Union remain "inadequate", French eurodeputy Philippe Morillon said on Tuesday, while presenting a relevant report to the Europarliaments Foreign Affairs Committee.
He said that Cyprus' division was an "unacceptable" fact and stressed that there was an urgent need to limit the Turkish military's role in that countries politics.
Morillon begun his presentation by welcoming Turkey's efforts to establish a new legal framework for human rights, as well as former President Suleyman Demirel's efforts for the creation of a better framework for the amendment of the Turkish Constitution.
He underlined, however, that "the conclusion of the report is that Turkey does not meet the Copenhagen criteria".
The French eurodeputy also noted that the Turkish citizens now recognize that the institutional reform is not enough but that there is also a need for a change in attitudes.
For this reason, he said, the Europarliament requested the creation of a Euro-Turkish forum to establish a substantive cooperation within the joint committee of Eurodeputies and Turkish parliament deputies.
"Turkey plays an important role in the future of the European Union. Everyone recognizes that the course will be long and difficult, and Turkey knows that the accession is very important, that is why all this should not remain in the depths of a private office, they should be made public," Morillon said.
Speaking on the outstanding issues regarding Turkey's course to the Union, Morillon said that "it is unthinkable at this day and age for Cyprus to remain divided. Look what happened in Berlin, in Sarajevo or even in the rapprochement between the two Koreas...The Cyprus problem is an issue that must be resolved".
The report presented by Morillon requests of the Turkish government to withdraw its occupation forces from the northern part of the island republic.
Morillon also spoke of the Kurdish problem, noting that it is a problem "that must be resolved", while for the Armenian issue he said "our (French national assembly) recognized in 1987 the Armenian genocide, it should be recognized by the Turkish government as well."
On his part, European Commissioner responsible for enlargement of the Union Guenter Verheugen said "if the final conclusions of Helsinki, in relation to the resolution of the Cyprus problem, should change in ways several of the speakers requested - that is if the resolution of the Cyprus problem becomes a precondition for the accession (of Turkey) then the effort shall fail".
"This is exactly the point we had changed last year with the positive decision of the Europarliament. We had said in the past that it was not a precondition, but that it could be requested of Turkey to exert, with sincerity, all possible effort toward a solution," Verheugen said.
"We should never forget, however, that for the resolution two are needed and not only one. You cannot expect from Turkey anything more than sincere and convincing efforts. You should demand the resolution (of the Cyprus problem) only by those who have set as their aim to resolve the problem," Verheugen added.
 Ecevit says EU "has tricked" Turkey
ISTANBUL, 15/11/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit views that the European Union "has tricked" Turkey, promising that it would not link Turkey's EU accession with the Cyprus issue.
In an interview with the newspaper Sabah on Tuesday, Ecevit said that "they have tricked us. They had given their word that the Cyprus issue would not be linked with our accession to the EU. They had sent us a letter."
The Turkish prime minister was apparently referring to Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen's letter following the EU summit in Helsinki last December. Finland held the six-month EU rotating presidency in the second half of 1999.
Ecevit said that he would consider whether to attend the EU summit in Nice.
The European Commission last Wednesday ratified its proposal to the Council of Ministers regarding the EU-Turkey partnership relationship, which is based on the EU Helsinki summit's conclusions on Greek-Turkish differences and the issue of Cyprus.
According to the document containing the EU-Turkish partnership relationship's basic principles, "a pre-accession strategy will apply for Turkey on encouraging and supporting its reforms".
"This strategy includes a strengthened political dialogue with emphasis on progress on fulfilling accession political criteria, particularly with regard to the human rights issue and issues referring to paragraph 4 (a peaceful solution to border disputes) and paragraph 9a (solving the Cyprus problem) of the Helsinki European Council's conclusions."
 Simitis chairs meeting on progress of Olympic Games projects
Athens, 15/11/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday evening chaired a ministerial committee on the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and expressed his satisfaction on the preparations underway for the Games.
International Olympics Committee (IOC) Vice President Jacques Rogge is due to arrive towards the end of November in Greece for his regular checks on the progress being made in the projects.
Deputy Press Minister Telemachos Hytiris said that work has already started for the construction of the Games' major project, that of the Olympic Village, at Thrakomakedones, northwest Attica.
It was announced at the meeting that the National Olympic Games Committee would convene on December 8.
The ministerial committee will meet again on December 13.
 PM chairs meeting on new immigration bill
Athens, 15/11/2000 (ANA)Prime minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday held talks with interior, public administration and decentralization minister Vasso Papandreou and public order minister Michalis Chrysohoidis in advance of a Cabinet discussion on a new bill on immigration policy.
No statements were made after the two-hour meeting.
The Cabinet is slated to discuss the bill on Thursday, prior to its tabling in parliament.
 Tsohatzopoulos and Evert discuss Greek foreign policy issues
Athens, 15/11/2000 (ANA)The course of Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus issue and Greece's strategy in the Balkans were discussed by Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and former main opposition New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert during a meeting on Tuesday.
In statements afterwards, Evert counseled a cautious stance toward Turkey, saying that its expansionist policies continued to exist and that it changed its attitude for tactical reasons and not because it intended to change its strategic goals.
He also called for a united front, setting aside party political differences, with reference to the Cyprus problem.
 Gov't says 'XO' initials after signature on IDs not acceptable
Athens, 15/11/2000 (ANA)The latest twist in the months-long furor related to the abolition of the religious affiliation category from new state-issued identification cards, an issue that has dramatically soured Church-state relations, centers on whether citizens can mark down initials indicating a specific denomination after their signature.
On Tuesday, the government reiterated that writing down the initials "X" and "O" -- the Greek letters chi and omicron, which stand for "Christian Orthodox" -- after one's signature on the new IDs amounts to a "circumvention" and "creates problems in dealings with the public sector."
The government's decision to issue new ID cards sans the religious affiliation on grounds that it constitutes a violation of citizens' privacy concerning personal data caused a firestorm of opposition from the powerful Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece in the beginning of summer.
The Greek Church is at present collecting signatures nationwide in order to force a referendum to give citizens in the predominately Orthodox country the option of listing their religious preference on new IDs.
In response to a press question during his regular daily briefing on Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas added that prohibiting the listing of "XO" behind signatures on ID cards emanates from a circular by the independent authority for personal data and the public order ministry's leadership. In short, citizens putting "XO", the initials of the predominate religious denomination in Greece, after their signature apparently won't be issued identification cards.
The same authority called for the abolition of the religious affiliation category, and as a result, came under severe fire by the Greek Church and its supporters.
On its part, the main opposition New Democracy party on Tuesday criticized the decision, saying it was an "unprecedented act" or a "blunder", as well as censorship on the part of the government.
 Kaklamanis meets delegation of Greek origin journalists
Athens, 15/11/2000 (ANA)Parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis criticized the role of the US government in relation with the Cyprus proximity talks on Tuesday, during a meeting with 33 journalists of Greek origin working for foreign media organizations.
He said the Cyprus talks had essentially yielded very little but that it was not in the interest of the Greek side to be seen as walking out of them, unless of course its interests were compromised. Turkey's strategy, he continued, was to give the impression that a war between Greece and Turkey was imminent, which had an inhibiting effect.
He said that Greece was against pointless and dangerous conflicts that facilitated Turkey's policies and felt that if Turkey insisted on its unacceptable demands, it could test their legality before the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
Commenting on Turkey's provocativeness in the Aegean, he said this was part of Ankara's "expansionist strategy," in which it was encouraged by the fact that the US and NATO regarded Turkey as strategically important and lavishly supplied the militarist state with weapons - something which also discouraged political and social forces that wanted the country's democratic development.
Kaklamanis was also asked questions on NATO enlargement, which he said should include Russia and not isolate it, racism in Greece, which he claimed was more a problem in the media than in society, and about recent municipal elections in Albania, which he said were marred by nationalist views in a country taking its first steps in democracy.
 Former minister urges government to stand firm on Macedonia issue
MELBOURNE, 15/11/2000 (ANA - S. Hatzimanolis)PASOK cadre and former minister Stelios Papathemelis, currently on a visit to Australia, urged the Greek government and other political parties not to ignore the voices of Greek-Australian Macedonian associations with the regard to the 'Macedonia' name issue.
Greece contests the use of the name Macedonia by the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia (FYROM), which is also shared by one of Greece's northernmost border provinces along the FYROM border.
Papathemelis urged the government to continue its efforts to defend the name Macedonia, and that the Macedonian associations would relentlessly monitor them to make sure they did their political duty.
 Labor ministry unveils labor market reform measures
Athens, 15/11/2000 (ANA)The Greek government will put forward a draft law of measures aiming to reform the country's labor market, following four months of dialogue with workers' and employers' unions, Labor Minister Tasos Giannitsis said on Tuesday.
The government measures envisage: a) establishing a total working time, on an annual basis, with workers' consent. Employers could ask workers to work up to 43 hours a week without paying overtime compensation and to cut back the extra time on the basis of a 38-hour working week, b) abolishing executives' right of 5 hours overtime a week, c) increasing by 25 basis points the cost of overtime payment, d) raising part-time workers' pay by 7.5 percent, e) offering a monthly sum of 30,000 to long-term unemployed taking part-time jobs for a period of 12 months, f) raising the ceiling on monthly group lay-offs for businesses with a workforce of 20-249 persons to four, and g) cutting employers' welfare contributions by two percentage points.
Giannitsis said all public sector's debt to the Social Security Fund should be acknowledged to support the viability of the welfare system.
He said the government was proceeding with its new legislation in an effort to deal with the problem of a total 520,000 unemployed in the country and noted that the new measures would lead to the creation of 50,000 new jobs.
GSEE, Greece's largest trade union umbrella, on Tuesday submitted a draft legislation to immediately cut weekly working hours to 39. The union blamed employers for intransigence and warned the government for a new round of industrial action. GSEE has announced a 24-hour panhellenic strike on the first day of discussion of the government's labor reform proposals in parliament.
Draft law on labor market reform measures provokes reactions: The announcement made by Labor Minister Giannitsis that the Greek government will put forward a draft law on measures to reform the country's labor market, has met with strong reaction.
The minister had said the government was proceeding with its new legislation in an effort to deal with the problem of a total of 520,000 unemployed in the country and noted that the new measures would lead to the creation of 50,000 new jobs.
General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Christos Polyzogopoulos said that his union will insist in its demand for a 35-hour working week and would call a 24-hour nationwide strike on the first day of discussion of the government's labor reform proposals in parliament.
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party spokesman for employment and social security Marietta Yiannakou raised questions as to the seriousness with which the government is confronting the major national issue of unemployment. She expressed doubt that the measures would lead to a drop in unemployment. Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) spokesman Spyros Koutsouvelis said that the government was proceeding in further undermining labor rights and accused it of adopting a "neo-liberal policy, which is leading the working people to a new impasse."
 Greek minister pledges 62 million dollars in aid to Bulgaria
SOFIA, 15/11/2000 (ANA - B. Borisov)National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and his Bulgarian counterpart Petar Zotev inaugurated on Tuesday the new aluminium frame plant of Steelmet S.A., an ETEM SA subsidiary.
Greece based ETEM, member of the Viohalco Group, invested 12 million dollars in renovating and refitting the existing plant, which will employ 195 technical and administrative personnel.
The plant was fitted with the capacity to produce 7,000 tons of aluminium frames, used in the manufacture of doors and windows, which will be sold in the domestic market and will be exported to Greece, Italy and central European countries.
Papantoniou noted that Greece would support such initiatives setting aside 62 million dollars in subsidies for the further reconstruction of infrastructures in Bulgaria.
Papantoniou, who heads a delegation of ministers, Parliament deputies and businessmen, began a Balkan tour with his visit to Yugoslavia on Sunday includes the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
He is being accompanied on his visit by Minister of Macedonia and Thrace George Paschalidis, Deputy National Economy Minister Yiannis Zapheiropoulos, deputies, senior economy ministry officials and 43 businessmen from all sectors of the economy.
Kostov: Greece a strategic partner for Bulgaria: As the only European Union and NATO member in the Balkans, Greece is a strategic partner for Bulgaria and the first country to provide specific financial backing for cooperation and development in SE Europe, Bulgarian prime minister Ivan Kostov was quoted as saying during talks in Belgrade with visiting Greek national economy and finance minister Yiannos Papantoniou.
Papantoniou met with Kostov Tuesday in Sofia on the second leg of a Balkan tour after talks with the Yugoslav leadership in Belgrade on Monday.
According to the director of the Bulgarian government's public relations and information department, Albena Ivrailova, Kostov told Papantoniou that Bulgaria particularly appreciated the fact that Greece was the first country to undertake an initiative to provide specific economic support as active proof of its desire to contribute to economic cooperation and development in SE Europe.
Kostov further expressed satisfaction with the "dynamic cooperation" between Greece and Bulgaria, adding that the Balkan Reconstruction Plan approved by the Greek government a year ago would without doubt contribute to further development of that cooperation, Ivrailova told a press briefing after the meeting, which was also attended by Bulgarian deputy premier and finance minister Petar Jotev and Greece's minister for Macedonia-Thrace George Paschalidis and other officials.
Greece was Bulgaria's third largest trade partner from among the EU member states, and the fourth largest foreign investor in the country, Jotev said after the meeting, adding that the Bulgarian side was looking forward to the outcome of a meeting later Tuesday in Sofia between the representatives of 40 major Greek businesses, who are accompanying Papantoniou, and a number of Bulgarian enterprises.
Jotev made special mention of the dynamic presence of Greek capital in the Bulgarian banking sector.
Greece's Balkan Reconstruction Plan was also the focus of talks Papantoniou and Paschalidis had late Monday night with Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov.
Stoyanov said after the consultations that the joint developmental plans for upgrading infrastructure were "the best thing that could happen" for improving the situation in the sensitive Balkan region.
After also stressing Greece's role as the only EU member country in the Balkans, Stoyanov expressed certainty that Athens "will be able to convince Western Europe that a speedy reconstruction of the Balkans is in the interests of the western European countries".
"Let us hope that they will remember the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II," Stoyanov said, referring to the US aid program that provided billions of dollars to war-ravaged European countries to help them regain the economic strength sapped by the prolonged conflict.
Greek and Bulgarian experts were continuing Tuesday a discussion of specific developmental plans in Bulgaria, for which Greece has pledged 62 million dollars under its Balkan Reconstruction Plan, Papantoniou told reporters.
Expressing satisfaction at being in Bulgaria on an official visit aimed at boosting economic cooperation, Papantoniou said that "many ties and common points in the past, tradition and our history unite us...We have impeccable political relations. It is the duty of both governments to reinforce those bonds and consolidate our cooperation and friendship on a firm foundation".
"And I believe that the economic sector provides precisely the firm foundation on which our reinforced cooperation will be built," the Greek economy minister said.
Papantoniou said Greece saw its cooperation with Bulgaria as an "inalienable part of its efforts to spearhead the development of cooperation in the wider Balkan region today, where very auspicious conditions arise after the prevalence of democracy in Yugoslavia".
"Looking to the future, when both our countries will belong to United Europe and will be linked with a common currency after Bulgarias accession to EMU, Greece will continue to dynamically exercise its influence for acceleration of Bulgaria's course to EU accession," Papantoniou said.
According to Ivrailova, Kostov asked for Greek premier Costas Simitis' intercession for abolition of the visa requirement so that Bulgarian citizens could freely travel to the EU countries, a requirement that has been abolished for most of the countries slated to join the EU in its next enlargement.
The visa issue, Ivrailova said, was a problem that was "intensely preoccupying the Bulgarian political world and public opinion in view of the upcoming meeting of EU justice and interior ministers in Nice".
Papantoniou replied that Greece actively supported Bulgaria on this matter, adding he would inform Simitis of Kostov's verbal request.
Apart from the dynamic initiative for economic growth, stability and prosperity in the wider region undertaken by the Greek government with its Balkan Reconstruction Plan, another guarantee for the radical upgrading of bilateral economic relations was the immense interest displayed by Greek entrepreneurs for investments in Bulgaria, where the economic reforms of recent years have created an appropriate climate of stability and recovery, Papantoniou continued.
In that respect, the Greek minister also expressed satisfaction that with the imminent establishment of the joint venture "Inter-Balkan Oil Pipeline", the Burgas-Alexandroupolis project, which was of great importance to Greece and Bulgaria, "has entered the final stretch".
The pipeline, designed to transport Russian crude oil from the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas to Greece's NE Aegean outlet of Alexandroupolis, has long been a strategic goal of Greece, Bulgaria and Russia, although repeated disagreements over terms have kept the project confined to engineering designs. Russia would have to transport crude oil to Burgas via tankers disembarking from its eastern Black Sea ports, mainly Novorossyisk.
Papantoniou also said that the Drama-Goce Delcev crossing, the first of three new checkpoints to be opened on the Greek-Bulgarian border, would be ready by the end of 2001, and the other two, at Xanthi-Roudozem and Komotini-Kerzali, would follow.
He further said that Greece's state-run telecoms Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) would take part in next month's international tender for a license to develop a second GSM mobile telephone network in Bulgaria, Ivrailova told reporters. Also, important political results for the acceleration of cooperation in the Balkans were expected after upcoming visits by Stoyanov and the new Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica to Athens in early December.
"The reality is that Greece Was the first country to announce a Balkan Reconstruction Plan, and remains the only country to have done so among the EU members, which still have not followed suit. It was therefore agreed, with the opportunity of the visits of Presidents Stoyanov and Kostunica to Athens in early December to stress the need for more interest on the part of the European countries for the inflow of capital into the Balkans in order to speed up the recovery of their economies," Papantoniou said. "Greece has paved the way. Greece has set the example. Let the others follow it," Papantoniou added.
 Greece to provide 85 million dollars in economic aid to FYROM
SKOPJE, 15/11/2000 (ANA - M. Vichou)Greek National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Tuesday called positive the climate during his contacts with the political leadership of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
"Greece's contribution to the economic development of FYROM was recognized," Papantoniou said, adding that he presented Greece's plan for the reconstruction of the Balkans to that country's leadership.
He noted that FYROM would receive 85 million dollars in aid from Greece in direct grants and credits for the development of its social, economic and productive infrastructures.
Papantoniou stressed that he requested of the President of FYROM Boris Traikofski, Prime Minister Borgo Anrejv and Economy Minister Ljiupco Gruefski to submit their proposals, so as for the funds to become available as soon as possible and thus for the projects and programs to be implemented as soon as possible.
He called the development of bilateral trade "spectacular", as it has reached 500 million dollars on an annual basis, noting the presence of Greek businesses in the FYROM.
He stressed that the economic reforms were a positive development toward the creation of a national framework for foreign investment.
He concluded that the leadership of FYROM is one "with which Greece can cooperate", so even without the resolution of the bilateral problem regarding the name of the small Balkan republic, the economic relations have developed considerably, a fact that contributes toward the further development of the political relations between the two countries.
With the conclusion of the visit to Skopje, Papantoniou ended a Balkan tour that begun on Sunday and Monday in Belgrade, on Tuesday in Sofia and later the same day in Skopje.
Minister of Macedonia and Thrace George Paschalidis, Deputy National Economy Minister Yiannis Zapheiropoulos, deputies, senior economy ministry officials and 43 businessmen from all sectors of the economy, accompanied him on his visit.
 Greek stocks continued moving lower
Athens, 15/11/2000 (ANA)Equity prices continued moving lower on Tuesday hit by lack of buying interest and a shrinking liquidity on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Traders said the Greek market largely ignored an improved climate in European stock markets and said it was a positive sign that the market has found support at the 3,530-point level.
Shares in the investment and leasing sectors ended slightly higher, while holdings suffered the heaviest losses of the day.
The general index ended 0.77 percent lower at 3,532.82 points, off the day's lows of 3,523.02 points, with turnover a low 42.29 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.94 percent off at 2,035.53 point, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index eased 0.14 percent to 421.29 points.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 7,442.25 -1.02% Leasing: 537.63 +0.76% Insurance: 1,611.38 -1.56% Investment: 1,222.60 +0.74% Construction: 1,452.29 -0.30% Industrials: 2,128.10 -0.55% Miscellaneous: 3,211.81 -0.40% Holding: 4,154.32 -2.23%
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 1.33 percent lower at 369.91 points.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 216 to 112 with another 25 issues unchanged.
Forthnet, Hellenic Telecoms, Bank of Cyprus, Panafon and National Bank were the most heavily traded stocks.
Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): National Bank: 13,595 Alpha Bank: 13,340 Commercial Bank: 17,750 Eurobank: 9,700 Piraeus Bank: 5,700 Lambrakis Press: 6,305 Heracles Cement: 4,770 Titan Cement (c): 14,375 Hellenic Telecoms: 6,325 Panafon: 2,990 Hellenic Petroleum: 3,680 Attica Enterprises: 2,930 Intracom: 9,950 Minoan Lines: 1,785 Hellenic Bottling: 5,275
Equity futures end down, tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Tuesday, in line with the bourse indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 0.94 percent lower, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 0.14 percent lower.
Turnover was 18.7 billion drachmas.
A total of 3,427 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 14.1 billion drachmas.
On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 2,679 contracts changed hands on turnover of 4.5 billion drachmas.
Bonds rise in heavy trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Tuesday finished higher in heavy trade.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.920 percent compared Monday's 5.921.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 70 basis points from 70 basis points for four sessions.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 195 billion drachmas from 28 billion drachmas in the trading day before.
Drachma continues moving lower against US dollar: A fall in the euro/dollar rate below the 86 cents in international markets pushed the drachma lower against the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market on Tuesday.
The Greek currency fell to 396.180 drachmas per dollar at the day's fixing, from 395.140 the previous day.
The drachma was stable against the euro currency at 340.150 drachmas per euro.
Greek 20-year state bond yields ease to 6.33 percent: Greece's long-term state bond yields eased slightly during Tuesday's regular auction of state securities by the Public Debt Management Organization.
The average weighed yield of a 20-year bond issue, worth 220 billion drachmas and paying an annual coupon of 6.5 percent, fell to 6.33 percent from 6.35 percent in the previous auction of same bond on September 19.
Bids submitted totalled 663.5 billion drachmas, three times more than the asked sum. The average weighed price of the bond issue was 101.792 points.
 Bank of Greece cuts interest rates by 50 basis points
Athens, 15/11/2000 (ANA)The Bank of Greece on Tuesday announced a cut in its intervention interest rates by 50 basis points, effective Wednesday, a moved aiming to achieve short-term interest rates convergence with eurozone countries.
Nikos Garganas, the central bank's vice-governor, announced the bank's decision on the sidelines of an Economist conference in Athens.
The Bank of Greece said it would cut its 14-day rate to 7.0 percent, its Lombard rate to 7.75 percent and the overnight rate to 6.0 percent.
Garganas told reporters that a surge in the inflation rate was temporary and added that the central bank would continue its successful cautious monetary policy.
 National Bank of Greece concludes its first global term note program
Athens, 15/11/2000 (ANA)The National Bank of Greece (NBG) on Tuesday concluded its first Global Medium Term Note Program, worth one billion euro.
The program was under the auspices of Merrill Lynch International and will allow the bank to issue senior debt or subordinated debt in all major currencies, including the euro, the dollar, the yen and the British pound.
Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Paribas and Schroder Salomon Smith and Barney will be the brokers of the program.
The senior debt notes were rated at A3BBB+ by Moody's and the subordinated debt notes were rated at Baa1/BBB by Standard & Poor's.
 Economist magazine organizes forum in Athens
Athens, 15/11/2000 (ANA)The slow down of the world economy is expected to affect Greece as well, Merli Baroudi, Economist magazine chief analyst in Greece, said on Tuesday, expressing her doubts regarding the high rates of growth of the Greek economy.
Speaking at the annual banking forum organized by the British magazine, she expressed doubts that the Greek economy can achieve a five per cent rate of growth, as was predicted by the government.
Baroudi said that the Greek economy made progress over the past few years, which resulted in the country's entry to the Economic Monetary Union (EMU) of the European Union, stressing al the while the need for increased speed in completing the structural changes that are under way.
To the contrary, Commercial Bank of Greece Governor Yiannis Stournaras said that a five per cent rate of growth seemed absolutely attainable due to increased investment in Greece as funds from the third community support framework of the EU and projects for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games would come to fruition.
He said that investment would rise by five per cent to 27 per cent of GDP and underlined that the upward trend can be reversed, quoting foreign analysts.
Stournaras said that the spread between the Greek and Eurozone inflation was 0.7 per cent, the same as before the latest upward trend, while the convergence criteria for price stability were maintained.
He also stressed that structural changes in deregulating markets should be sped up.
 EFG Eurobank Ergasias, Panafon, Hellas On Line in B2B venture
Athens, 15/11/2000 (ANA)EFG Eurobank Ergasias, Panafon and Hellas On Line on Tuesday unveiled a joint venture in business-to-business electronic commerce with an initial equity capital of 2.0 billion drachmas.
Business Exchanges SA will aim to become one of the main suppliers of internet commerce services between businesses in Greece, through the development of an electronic marketplaces portal.
EFG Eurobank Ergasias will hold a 60 percent stake in the company, Panafon a 30 percent and Hellas On Line another 10 percent.
Business Exchanges will offer its customers links with other local and international B2B electronic marketplaces.
The company will launch its horizontal operation in March 2001 and its vertical market operation two months later.
 National Bank of Greece is the largest banking group in the Balkans
Athens, 15/11/2000 (ANA)National Bank of Greece is the largest banking group in the Balkans with a network of 250 branches spreading to all the countries in the region, and a workforce of 4,000 (accounting for 25 percent of the bank's total workforce).
National Bank has invested more than 110 billion drachmas in the Balkan states with the aim to become a regional force, the bank's vice-governor Andreas Vranas told an annual banking forum, organized by the Economist magazine, in Athens on Tuesday.
Vranas said that the bank's strong network was paving the way for the bank's strong presence in retail banking in a market with a population exceeding 60 million people.
National Bank was pursuing an autonomous growth in Albania and plans to open two new branches in the country, raising its total network to five.
The bank plans to open a representation office in Serbia. It holds a 45 percent market share in Bulgaria, following the purchase of UBB, and an 18 percent market share in FYROM with the purchase of Stopanska Bank.
National Bank also seeks to expand its presence in Romania.
 Gov't spokesman, environment minister present Athens' positions on combatting climate change
Athens, 15/11/2000 (ANA)Greece will fully comply with the decisions of the world conference on climate at The Hague, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Tuesday, the first day of negotiations between the world's nations on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The spokesman said the government would take all steps necessary in this direction.
Environment minister Costas Laliotis, meanwhile, during a Tuesday press conference on the climate talks, attributed Greece's failure to meet emission targets set by the EU to delays in introducing natural gas as a source of energy, especially for household use.
A press conference held by Greenpeace Hellas last week had slammed Greece's overall record on cutting down greenhouse gas emissions, with local director Stelios Psomas claiming that the country had failed miserably and that emissions had actually risen by 18 per cent between 1990 and 1998.
With regard to EU targets, Laliotis admitted that the country had overshot targets by 5 per cent but pointed out that other EU member-states, such as Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium had exceeded their targets by more than this. He said that Greece had undertaken to contain average emission increases for six greenhouse gases to 25 per cent of levels in 1990.
He said that the recent successful conclusion of a tender for a natural gas supplier in Greece and the continuous development of renewable energy sources should help significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as would comprehensive solutions for waste management and modern public transport in Athens and Thessaloniki.
Commenting on the world climate conference at The Hague, the environment minister said that it was an opportunity that should not be missed and that this would be stressed by all the participating delegations. "The message must be clear, there are no margins for delays, and the solutions must be found today."
Presenting Greece's proposals for combatting climate change, Laliotis said the European Union was spearheading initiatives but that much depended on the stance displayed by the US - still a factor of uncertainty until the election results were confirmed. Athens is planning to recommend establishing quotas between domestic activity and activities in third countries, the creation of a fund that would use fines imposed for failing to conform to environmental regulations to finance environmental projects and initiatives in developing countries, making a list of "positive technologies" to be included in "clean growth mechanisms" (with the express exclusion of nuclear power) and, finally, to not allow the trade off of forests and plantations as "sinks" for increased emissions.
Deputy Environment Minister Ilias Efthymiopoulos will be representing Greece at the conference, while Polytechnic student Maria Papageorgiou and high-school student Alexis Papagrigoriou will represent Greek youth organizations.
Main opposition New Democracy spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos also commented the environmental conference on Tuesday, saying that the data presented by international organizations on the destruction of the environment was distressing and saying that Greece was in danger of water shortage and desertification unless steps were taken to prevent this.
 US RAND Corporation prepares report, refers to Cyprus issue
WASHINGTON, 15/11/2000 (CNA / ANA)US RAND Corporation has prepared a 300-page report, containing proposals on the new US administration's foreign and security policy, including a reference to Cyprus, divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
The organization notes that "the goal of a bizonal bicommunal federation remains appropriate" for Cyprus and that "the US can have a role, but not necessarily the leading role, in any settlement arrangements for the island".
It adds that "Cyprus is increasingly an EU-led issue, and the key incentives for compromise will come from Brussels".
The document, which was prepared based on the work of a political party committee and the views of foreign policy teams of the Republican and Democrat presidential candidates, also includes chapters on the new administration's foreign policy regarding Greece and Turkey.
 Government satisfied with European Commission progress report on Cyprus
NICOSIA, 15/11/2000 (CNA/ANA)The Cyprus government has expressed full satisfaction with a report the European Commission has issued on progress in Cyprus' effort to join the EU, describing it "positive and favorable." A statement by the Foreign Ministry said that criticism, in the report on some delays and omissions, was done in good faith and is considered as a reminder of the difficult effort ahead.
The statement also expressed satisfaction with the document on the strategy for EU enlargement, which will form the basis of discussions for decision making at next month's summit in Nice. Expressing "full satisfaction" with the progress report on Cyprus, the Foreign Ministry said the regular report could be described as "positive and favorable because it acknowledged that Cyprus is the only candidate country, which already satisfied all political and economic criteria for accession and continues to be ahead of all other candidates."
The progress achieved so far towards harmonization with the acquis communautaire and strengthening of the structure of the administration is presented in an objective manner.
EU criticism on some delays and omissions in the implementation of commitments Cyprus had undertaken is considered to have been made "in good faith and is regarded a reminder that difficult, serious and pain-staking effort must be made before the successful conclusion of negotiations and accession."
The Ministry said it was pleased with the strategy document on enlargement, which calls on member states to meet their commitment to conclude the Intergovernmental Conference to enable the Union to accept new members at the end of 2002 and function effectively after enlargement.
The government welcomed suggestions, proposals and a time table the Commission is putting forward to intensify accession negotiations with a view to conclude them in mid 2002, hoping this would be approved by the 15 at Nice summit in early December.
Cyprus has already closed 16 out of 29 chapters during accession negotiations and is ahead of the remaining 12 candidate countries.