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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-12-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greek FM outlines Greece's role in the Balkans, stresses border stability, during Athens conference
  • [02] Greek, Albanian premiers discuss bilateral issues
  • [03] Unprecedented Athens conference brings together most Kosovo issue protagonists
  • [04] FM replies to criticism by ND deputy on foreign ministry and Balkan policy
  • [05] Balkan countries agree to jointly tackle crises caused by natural disasters
  • [06] Democracy will win in struggle against terrorism, Greek public order minister says
  • [07] Bulgarian citizens' obligation to obtain visas for entry to EU countries lifted
  • [08] Sofia pleased with EU decision on visas:
  • [09] Greek Church's Holy Synod clarifies position on prospect of papal visit
  • [10] New Yugoslav leader to arrive on Sunday for Mount Athos pilgrimage
  • [11] Defense, economy ministers brief premier ahead of meeting on armaments program
  • [12] Greek defense minister begins official visit to Sweden on Saturday
  • [13] Simitis calls on his ruling party to modernize
  • [14] Minoan lines vice president buried on Friday
  • [15] Greek EU Commissioner Diamantopoulou briefs ND leader on European trends
  • [16] DHKKI leader appeals to leftist parties, organizations and personalities for progressive front
  • [17] Greece, Spain to sign tax agreement
  • [18] PPC to take part in FYROM tender
  • [19] General Bank to act as financial consultant to defense ministry
  • [20] Greek stocks end sharply higher, market sentiment improves
  • [21] AIDS control center on the spread of the AIDS epidemic within Greece
  • [22] Paris street named after opera singer Maria Callas
  • [23] UNICEF to organize Greek telethon for world's street children in collaboration with state television
  • [24] "Eleftherios Venizelos" Studies and Research Foundation honors Parliament President Kaklamanis
  • [25] Britain's Ashdown in Athens next week for lecture on globalization
  • [26] Clerides says Cyprus peace talks going through crucial phase due to Denktash's attitude

  • [01] Greek FM outlines Greece's role in the Balkans, stresses border stability, during Athens conference

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou was guest speaker at a conference held in Athens on Friday by the Rand Corporation, a US think-tank, and the Greece-based Kokkalis Foundation. The conference was entitled "The new geo-political role of Greece".

    Papandreou referred to Greece's role in the Balkans and surrounding regions, and talked about the unique opportunity that is now being presented to incorporate this region into Europe and convert it into an area of peaceful cooperation and prosperity. He said that Greece had a crucial role to play in this transition.

    He stressed the importance of borders in the Balkans remaining unchanged and of not encouraging the forces that wished these to change.

    "The border should remain as they are and their importance should be minimized through the process of incorporating the countries of the region into Europe," he said.

    A possible exception, he pointed out, were Serbia and Montenegro. According to Papandreou, the two countries had committed themselves to try and find a new "modus vivendi" within the framework of Federal Yugoslavia, but had agreed to work out some form of "amicable split" along the lines of Slovakia and the Czech Republic if this proved impossible.

    "If this is done with their mutual consent," he said, "then we have no reason to oppose it."

    With regard to Kosovo, conversely, the Greek foreign minister took a totally different approach and warned of the danger of encouraging separatist tendencies in minorities and fostering the idea of "ethnically pure" societies and nations.

    "This is an entirely different case," he said. "The international community must maintain its presence there in order to support the co-existence of different ethnic groups. Its mission is not to work out a final solution for Kosovo. The most important thing is for the local government in Kosovo to function."

    Referring to Turkey's relations with the European Union and the EU-Turkey partnership agreement document, Papandreou said that Greece had made a generous gesture at the Helsinki Summit (when it agreed to allow Turkey's EU candidacy) and wanted Turkey's relations with the EU to develop on the basis of the principles adopted there.

    "There are conditions for Turkey's relations with the EU. The conditions apply to all candidate countries. Turkey must therefore meet them. This will be in the interests of both Turkey and the EU," he said.

    He refused to comment on what stance Athens would take on this issue in the coming week, at either the EU General Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday or at the EU Summit in Nice at the end of next week, which he discussed with Prime Minister Costas Simitis immediately afterward.

    Greek gets key role in aiding southeast European economies: Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Friday spoke of Greece's key role in helping to develop southeast European economies.

    The country's geopolitical weaknesses in past years had been remedied, which would have a favorable impact on those countries, and on the rest of Europe, Christodoulakis said.

    The minister was addressing a conference on Greece's new geo-political role organized by the Kokkalis Foundation.

    [02] Greek, Albanian premiers discuss bilateral issues

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Friday received his Albanian counterpart Illir Meta, who arrived in Athens to participate in the conference on "Albanians as minorities in the Balkans", taking place here.

    The two prime ministers, during a private meeting, discussed bilateral relations.

    Following the meeting, Simitis said that Greece is willing to provide further aid to Albania, adding that in accordance to the declaration of the Zagreb EU-western Balkans summit, it was up to the Albanian government to soon undertake measures, based on European Union criteria, paving the way toward negotiations for an agreement of stabilization and association.

    The two men agreed to look into new possibilities of cooperation in the military sector, as well as to undertake measures for the joint confrontation of organized crime and illegal immigration.

    They also discussed Greece's position for the abolishing of the "minority zones" in Albania. The Greek premier reiterated Greece's concern over several irregularities that were noted during the last local elections in Albania.

    The two premiers discussed Greek investments in the neighboring country, focusing on the case of three Greek oil companies in Durres.

    On his part, Meta said that the Albanian government considers Greece a strategic partner and thanked Greece for its economic and political aid toward Albania's course to the Euro-Atlantic institutions.

    Regarding the Greek oil firms, Meta said that his government would respect all its legal and economic obligations toward them, committing to personally resolve the issue in a short while and with a mutually acceptable solution.

    He reiterated his invitation to Greek companies to invest in his country, adding that the Albanian authorities would continue their efforts to further improve the economic environment of the country.

    Regarding the "minority zones", he promised to speedily promote relevant amendments to the Albanian legislation regarding human rights of Greek minority members in accordance to the European specifications, adding that his government would consult European experts on the issue.

    ND leader receives Albanian prime minister: Greek main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Friday received Albanian Prime Minister Ilir Meta and discussed the issue of the Greek minority in his country and that of illegal immigration to Greece.

    Karamanlis expressed his concern for the incidents of violence, during the last local elections in Albania, targeting the Greek minority and stressed "they (incidents) do not help the consolidation of democracy in Albania and its course to Europe".

    He also said that the Greek minority in Albania could become a bridge for the two countries, there is however a need for the Albanian government's political will toward this aim.

    Regarding illegal immigration, Karamanlis said that the laws should be respected at the borderlands of Greece and Albania, so as to avert uncontrolled immigration and the entry of criminals into Greece, who are responsible for elements of organized crime in Greece.

    The Albanian prime minister made no comment.

    [03] Unprecedented Athens conference brings together most Kosovo issue protagonists

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    An unprecedented conference here on Friday focusing on the issue of "Albanians as minorities in the Balkans" brought together practically all the protagonists surrounding the Kosovo problem and the latest developments in Albania.

    Participants scheduled to attend at the closed-door sessions included the UN's head in Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, Albanian PM Ilir Meta along with that country's foreign minister and ex-premier Fatos Nano; a high-level Serbian delegation from Belgrade as well as Serbian representatives from the strife-torn province of Kosovo; several top Albanian Kosovar politicians, including Ibrahim Rugova and one-time 'UCK' high-profile commander Hasim Thaci; a bevy of Greece's diplomats in the region; several foreign envoys stationed in Athens - including the US ambassadors to Athens, Tirana and Skopje, and finally, representatives from several international organizations.

    A government spokesman during the day denied reports that Greek FM George Papandreou would address the conference, noting that the latter had a previous speaking engagement in Athens and would host a reception for the conference's participants later in the day.

    The conference, organized at a seaside resort near Athens, was held under the auspices of Princeton University's "Project on Ethnic Relations".

    In a related development, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis is expected to receive his visiting Albanian counterpart Meta on Friday evening.

    [04] FM replies to criticism by ND deputy on foreign ministry and Balkan policy

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis held talks with Foreign Minister George Papandreou at the Maximos Mansion on Friday, who said later "the object of cooperation with the Prime Minister was preparation for the Nice summit and the discussion on the partnership relation which will start at the General Affairs Council on Monday December 4."

    Papandreou said there are two important issues for Greece. The one concerns the future of Europe, the intergovernmental conference as it is called, and the institutional changes for the European Union. The other concerns Turkey's known road map to Europe.

    "I believe that together with the French Presidency we are shaping proposals which will be positive for the final result," he said.

    Referring to the text on the partnership relation and the French Presidency's position, Papandreou said "as I have told you, with the French Presidency we are jointly shaping some thoughts. I hope they are positive. We have stressed, of course, that the decisions taken in Helsinki should be imprinted. In this framework, I think we are moving in a positive direction. We have said it is not us who are speeding up. If we do not reach a conclusion on December 4 or in Nice this issue can be discussed at the next Swedish Presidency."

    On the question of the conference on "Albania as a majority and minority in the Balkans", being hosted in Athens, and the informal meeting between the Greek prime minister and his Albanian counterpart, as well as a statement by main opposition New Democracy party Deputy Dora Bakoyianni that "there are people with peculiar views at the Foreign Ministry and the Foreign Ministry's policy is being exercised in an unprecedented way without any success having been achieved", Papandreou said:

    "First of all, New Democracy should clarify what its own policy is because I am hearing many and different things concerning specific foreign policy issues from the main opposition party.

    "Secondly, what is evident is that New Democracy, solely for its own partisan reasons, has decided to escalate its intense criticism against the government in the foreign policy sector in coming weeks. It is a pity, because it is a sector where, as I consider, we can and have, I believe, common conceptions. I believe there is a successful policy which is being exercised by the Greek government."

    "Regarding issues that relate to us", Papandreou said, "Greece participates in conferences, participates by organizing conferences".

    "In this case we simply host a conference, which, however, is of interest to us. The Albanian problem is of interest to all of the Balkans, and more so for Greece," he added.

    "I can't understand those having the attitude that we should hide behind our walls, to let others decide on issues of the Balkans and for Greece not to be in the forefront. At last, there should be support by everyone. Greece undertakes initiatives, Greece participates in difficult issues. This is the only way to resolve them," Papandreou concluded.

    [05] Balkan countries agree to jointly tackle crises caused by natural disasters

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    Balkan countries will jointly tackle crises caused by natural disasters such as big fires, earthquakes and floods, following a decision taken by the Conference of Balkan countries' Interior and Public Administration Ministers in Thessaloniki on Friday, chaired by Greek Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou.

    To this end, ministers from Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Yugoslavia, Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Romania agreed to the creation of two experts' committees on emergency issues. The committees will form intervention groups, which will be in constant contact to coordinate action.

    They further agreed to cooperation between their countries on public and local administration issues through the International Public Administration Center in Thessaloniki, inaugurated by Papandreou at noon.

    Earlier, Papandreou held private meetings with her Bulgarian and Yugoslav counterparts for talks, according to reports, on issues concerning the transfer of know-how and expertise from Greece in light of administrative reforms due to take place in the neighboring countries.

    [06] Democracy will win in struggle against terrorism, Greek public order minister says

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    Democracy will be victorious against terrorism in Europe, Greek Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis said on Friday, during the two-day meeting of the European Union Council of Justice and Interior Ministers.

    "I share the anxiety of my Spanish colleague. I express, on the Greek government's behalf, our support to the Spanish people and its government," he said.

    "We should send two messages today: One to the hooded executioners and a second to the European citizens, that our decision is to combat terrorism. Democracy will win. We ask for the help of all European citizens," he added.

    [07] Bulgarian citizens' obligation to obtain visas for entry to EU countries lifted

    BRUSSELS, 02/12/2000 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    The European Union's Council of Justice and Internal Affairs Ministers decided here on Friday to lift the obligation of Bulgarian citizens to obtain entry visas for EU member-states. Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis set out Greeces positions.

    As a result of the decision, Bulgaria is now included in the "white list" of countries whose citizens are not required to obtain visas for stays of less than three months in EU member-states. Chrysohoidis agreed with the decision, but stressed the special problems existing due to the existence of common borders with Greece.

    In an announcement, the "15" called on the European Commission to present a report in two months' time containing an assessment of measures taken by Bulgaria to combat illegal migration.

    It was also decided to include Romania in the EU's "white list" but without the obligation of its citizens to obtain visas being lifted for the time being. The Council will reconsider the issue in accordance with assessment reports the European Commission will be submitting in January and June 2001.

    The Council further agreed to the need for common measures being adopted to combat terrorism in Greece and expressed solidarity to Spain, which has been particularly struck by terrorist acts.

    On the sidelines of the Council, Chrysohoidis and Justice Minister Mihalis Stathopoulos held talks with Justice and Internal Affairs Commissioner Antonio Vitorino.

    In another development, Bulgarian Cabinet President Ivan Kostov had a telephone conversation with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday and called for Greece's support for Bulgaria's request for an unconditional abolition of restrictions set out by the Schengen Treaty for Bulgarian citizens traveling to EU countries, a state TV broadcast said at night.

    According to the broadcast, the discussion between Kostov and Simitis was the second telephone conversation between the two leaders on this issue in November.

    [08] Sofia pleased with EU decision on visas:

    SOFIA, 02/12/2000 (ANA - B. Borisov)

    Bulgarian leadership on Friday hailed an EU justice and interior ministers' decision to abolish Schengen Pact restrictions on the free movement of Bulgarian nationals in the Union.

    Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov called Friday's decision a "historic moment" for his country, before preparing to brief the country's parliament.

    Kostov had discussed the 'visa issue' twice with his Greek counterpart Costas Simitis last month -- including a telephone conversation on the eve of the justice ministers' council -- as well as several other phone contacts with other EU leaders.

    In a related development, Simitis will receive visiting Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov on Monday in Athens.

    [09] Greek Church's Holy Synod clarifies position on prospect of papal visit

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    The Greek Church's powerful Holy Synod on Friday essentially referred the controversial issue of acquiescing to a long-desired papal visit to Greece to the government, almost a year since the top ecclesiastical body clearly voiced its opposition to such a prospect.

    A Holy Synod spokesman emphasized that "it's the right of any individual, and therefore the pope as well, to visit our country, especially in order to worship at the site where the Apostle Paul preached to the Athenians on Pnyx Hill."

    However, the Holy Synod spokesman, Metropolitan of Sparta Efstathios, clarified in further statements that any final decision by authorities to facilitate a visit by Pope John Paul II to the predominately Eastern Orthodox nation "must consider all the facts that comprise the ... historical, social and religious composition of our country; and it's natural for these to influence the holding, or not, of this pilgrimage."

    Efstathios added that the Holy Synod, the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece's highest administrative body, considers that it "does not have the authority to acquiesce or oppose such a visit."

    Pope John Paul II has expressed a desire to visit Greece on April 30 next year, part of his tour of Near East sites sacred to Christendom.

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos chaired Friday's Holy Synod meeting.

    [10] New Yugoslav leader to arrive on Sunday for Mount Athos pilgrimage

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    New Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica will arrive at the semi-autonomous monastic community of Mount Athos on Sunday for a pilgrimage to a historic Orthodox monastery.

    Kostunica will first visit the well-known Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos - a narrow peninsula in northern Greece -- before heading on to the predominately Serbian Orthodox Hilandariou Monastery in order to attend an all-night religious service.

    Kostunica will head an unofficial Yugoslav delegation of around 20 government officials and advisers, while he is expected to remain in Greece for less than 24 hours, reports state.

    Before departing from the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki on Monday, Kostunica will lay a wreath at a World War I memorial honoring Serbia's war dead. The Greek governments Macedonia and Thrace minister will initially greet the Yugoslav president at the citys airport before also visiting the Aghios Demetrios Cathedral - dedicated to the city's patron saint.

    Several monasteries are located on Mount Athos, a male-only community that, according to Eastern Orthodox tradition, has been dedicated to the Virgin Mary for a millennium.

    [11] Defense, economy ministers brief premier ahead of meeting on armaments program

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and National Economy Yiannos Papantoniou on Friday briefed Prime Minister Costas Simitis in light of the upcoming meeting of the Government Council of Foreign Affairs and Defense (ΚΥΣΕΑ) on Greece's armaments program.

    [12] Greek defense minister begins official visit to Sweden on Saturday

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos will depart on Saturday for Stockholm to officially visit Sweden at the invitation of his counterpart Bjorn Von Zindov.

    Tsohatzopoulos, a vice-president of the European Socialist Party (ESP), will address an international conference organized by the ESP entitled "Globalization, the enlargement of the European Union and the role of the states".

    On Sunday, the Greek defense minister will address a meeting of Greek expatriates in Sweden and on Monday he will visit the Ericsson company installations.

    Later on Monday Zindov will hold a dinner in honor of Tsohatzopoulos and the delegations of the two countries will hold talks and a joint press conference.

    Following the press conference, Tsohatzopoulos will depart for Brussels to participate in the winter NATO defense ministers' conference, scheduled for Dec. 4 to 6.

    [13] Simitis calls on his ruling party to modernize

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Friday stressed that ruling PASOK must continue to be forward-looking and not allow itself to become entrenched in the past, during his speech at a party conference in the Greek capital.

    "We retain our central role in the political life of the country because, throughout, we continue to express the interests of the great majority of Greek people," he said. "Political leadership is ours because we maintain political initiative ... in our historical course we have always succeeded in being the expression of the new."

    To achieve this, he added, demanded sweeping changes within the party itself in order to do away with "outdated, entrenched positions and create a new relationship with the government that would preserve the party's autonomy from the state and its mechanisms."

    In the coming decade, Simitis told delegates at the fourth PASOK political organization conference, the priorities would be to complete the major structural reforms of the Greek economy and ensure a high rate of growth, so that the country can continue the process of economic convergence and succeed in fully catching up with its partners in Europe.

    Meeting this challenge, he added, meant mobilizing a party that was strong and inspired. "The people want a strong PASOK and they neither want nor understand the 'party as electoral mechanism' or the 'party of personal strategies.' And certainly not a party at the service of local or national interest groups."

    He was also scathing in his criticism of main opposition New Democracy and its allegations of the government's involvement with major economic interests, saying it was trying to drag PASOK into its own problems and dependence on "big money".

    Skandalidis: In his address, PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis called for a "separation between the party and the state," sternly criticizing, in the process, what he called "grouping" and cliques within the ruling party.

    "PASOK is in need of modernization and renewal, and cannot include forces entrenched in bastions from which one fights the other," he said, before calling on party cadres to work for a new collective effort.

    Karamanlis reply: In his response, ND leader Costas Karamanlis charged that the prime minister refuses to speak in Parliament regarding what he called the "major problems" facing the nation.

    He also cited what he called the Simitis government's "impasse and panic", saying the premier on Friday "comes before several PASOKs".

    [14] Minoan lines vice president buried on Friday

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    Minoan Flying Dolphins vice-president and managing director Pantelis Sfinias was buried on Friday, as hundreds of people gathered at Athens' First Cemetery to send him off.

    Sfinias committed suicide on Wednesday by jumping out of sixth-story window at the company's offices. MFD was the owner of the ferry "Express Samina" that sank on September 26, causing the death of 80 passengers. The company faces multiple lawsuits and is apparently in financial difficulties.

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis, Education Minister Petros Efthimiou, former merchant marine ministers Stavros Soumakis and George Katsifaras were present during the funeral service.

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) shipping workers' organization claimed, in a press release, that MFD employees were forced to attend the funeral.

    Greek seaman goes missing on board newly built ship during test voyage: A 26-year-old Greek seaman has been missing since November 11, it was announced on Friday, which said that he disappeared on board an Italian-flagged car ferry that had just been launched by an Italian shipyard for its maiden voyage off the Italian coast.

    Italian authorities said that George Kambouris had not been properly registered on the ship's crew, as were his other 37 Greek comrades. The ship had been commissioned by Minoan Lines, which received it a few days later and added it to its fleet as the Greek-flagged "Knossos Pallas".

    According to reports, the 26-year-old electrician disappeared from the ship while watching the Italian seamen handling the vessel and has not been seen since.

    Italian authorities are now conducting an investigation, while both the merchant marine and foreign ministries have been informed.

    According to ship-owner Minoan Lines, the company was informed of the disappearance by the Greek consular Harbor Master in Geneva and managed to locate and inform Kambouris' family three days later, and to ask whether he had contacted anyone during that time.

    The announcement adds that Minoan Lines have not been officially informed regarding the disappearance by port authorities, though they have formally asked for details of the preliminary investigation.

    Reppas refuses to comment on Sfinias' suicide, denies cover-up in the case of missing seaman: Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas avoided commenting on the suicide of Minoan Flying Dolphins vice-president Pantelis Sfinias during the regular press briefing on Friday, and advised the press to show restraint until the investigation was complete.

    He also rejected reports that the government had attempted to cover up the disappearance of the Greek seaman, George Kambouris.

    The spokesman said that Greek authorities had been informed of the disappearance on November 11 and had begun an investigation. He said that the Piraeus public prosecutor's office had been informed, as had Italian authorities, since the ship was still under an Italian flag at the time of the disappearance.

    "The reports of a cover-up regarding the disappearance of this man are not true. The impression is given that the authorities were slack and this is inexcusable," he said.

    Asked if the government intended to take measures to regulate the way that companies behave on the stock exchange, he said the government had taken measures when this was needed. "Our policy addresses citizens' interests."

    [15] Greek EU Commissioner Diamantopoulou briefs ND leader on European trends

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    Greek European Union Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou briefed main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Friday on the EU's social agenda, employment, pensioning settlements and related trends prevailing in Europe.

    Diamantopoulou said she also briefed ND on the text of the EU-Turkey partnership relation, as it has been shaped at the European Commission.

    On the part of ND, Marieta Yiannakou said ND listened to Diamantopoulou's briefing with interest, but pointed out that in Greece substantive differences exist with what is prevailing in Europe, adding that in labor issues there are ineffective legislative interventions.

    Yiannakou criticized the government for not permitting social partners to discuss substantively, while in France such a discussion lasted for a year.

    She said the country is being led to a society of two-thirds and predicted that unemployment will increase in the country and urged the government to follow the model of Ireland and Portugal, which succeeded in increasing employment through effective action plans.

    [16] DHKKI leader appeals to leftist parties, organizations and personalities for progressive front

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    Addressing his party's 1st regular congress at the Athens Olympic stadium on Friday night, Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas made an appeal for cooperation to leftist parties, political organizations and independent personalities for the creation of a big "anti-liberal, progressive and patriotic social front."

    He proposed as a first step in this initiative "leading to true change" cooperation in the next municipal and prefectural elections to take place in the country.

    Tsovolas referred to the establishment of his party five years ago as a reply to marginalized social groups (pensioners, working people, young people and small and medium-size businessmen), which were created by the two mainstream parties' acceptance of neo-liberalism with the "deadlocked Maastricht Treaty."

    Referring to the present, Tsovolas said the time of truth has arrived since "vested interests, which are present more than ever due to the responsibility of the two major parties, are submitting bills for payment and, indeed, obtrusively and without delay."

    [17] Greece, Spain to sign tax agreement

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    Greece and Spain will sign a bilateral agreement to avoid double taxation of income and capital, a move seen as a major step towards closer economic relations and boosting investment between the two EU countries.

    The agreement will be signed in Madrid between Finance Deputy Minister Apostolos Fotiadis and his Spanish counterpart Jimene Reyna.

    The two officials will also discuss moves to harmonies tax systems in the framework of the European Union and a globalization of trade transactions.

    Hellenic Telecoms plans single telephone rates by 2001

    Hellenic Telecommunications Organization plans to establish a single telephone rate around the country by the end of 2001, and to implement a per second billing policy on fixed telephony following the installation and operation of a new billing system - to operate on a pilot basis from January 2001.

    Hellenic Telecoms' commercial director, Athanassios Gitzenis, speaking at a press conference in Thessaloniki, on the occasion of a 3rd Panhellenic Sales Conference, organized by the company, and titled "With knowledge and power", said that in the next 10-15 days the company would announce its final proposals on new billing policy and acknowledged there were some imbalances on its current policy.

    [18] PPC to take part in FYROM tender

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    The Public Power Corporation (PPC) is to take part in a tender in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), its first move into the Balkans, it said in a statement on Friday.

    It is to join Siemens and the listed KI Sarantopoulos Group in bidding to upgrade seven small hydroelectric units in the neighboring country.

    Also taking part in the consortium is Croatia's state electricity company.

    [19] General Bank to act as financial consultant to defense ministry

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    General Bank will act as a financial consultant to Greece's national defense ministry, Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Friday.

    Speaking at a press conference, Tsohatzopoulos said that General Bank's consulting role would focus on issues relating to armament programs, evaluating bids and proposals by domestic and foreign investment firms and banks interested in co-operating with the ministry on financing matters and submitting alternative solutions or improved proposals.

    Tsohatzopoulos said the cooperation with General Bank would expand to the real estate sector ahead of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

    The bank's chairman and chief executive, Ioannis Manos, said that General Bank would soon create a mutual funds management company with the participation of the armed forces' pension funds.

    [20] Greek stocks end sharply higher, market sentiment improves

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended the first trading session of December sharply higher on Friday, dramatically reversing a previously prevailing negative climate on the Athens Stock Exchange and offering hope to gloomy private investors.

    Traders said strong buying interest for blue chip stocks, particularly by domestic institutional investors, gradually led private investors to join the market.

    A positive trend in European bourses, despite a sharp fall on Wall Street on Thursday, also helped in the improvement of market sentiment.

    Analysts said that a sharp rise in future contract prices was a sign that investors were beginning to discount "better days ahead" for the market.

    The general index ended 4.85 percent higher to 3,403.33 points, off the day's highs of 3,417.71 points, with turnover an improved 100.5 billion drachmas.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 4.28 percent higher to 1,934.92 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index jumping 7.46 percent to end at 412.79 points.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 7,079.55 + 4.44% Leasing: 669.99 +11.87% Insurance: 1,548.52 + 4.54% Investment: 1,230.39 + 8.87% Construction: 1,328.99 +11.40% Industrials: 2,098.48 + 4.50% Miscellaneous: 3,083.29 + 6.87% Holding: 4,248.25 + 4.96%

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 7.38 percent higher at 353.85 points.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 348 to four with another five issues unchanged.

    Astir Hotels, National Properties, Hellenic Telecoms and Alpha Bank were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): National Bank: 12,910 Alpha Bank: 12,240 Commercial Bank:

    17,290 Eurobank: 9,190 Piraeus Bank: 5,495 Lambrakis Press: 5,230 Altec: 3,000 Titan Cement (c): 14,480 Hellenic Telecoms: 5,690 Panafon: 2,895

    Hellenic Petroleum: 3,770 Attica Enterprises: 2,980 Intracom: 8,900 Minoan Lines: 1,690 Hellenic Bottling: 5,460

    Equity futures end up, tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished higher on Friday, roughly in line with the bourse indices on which they are based.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 4.28 percent up, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 7.46 percent higher.

    Turnover was 31.7 billion drachmas.

    A total of 7,303 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 27.9 billion drachmas.

    On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 2,295 contracts changed hands on turnover of 3.7 billion drachmas.

    Bond prices end mixed: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Friday finished mixed in moderate trade with deals focusing on 20-year securities.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.676 percent from 5.694 percent in the previous session.

    The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 68 basis points from 67 basis points a day earlier.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 114 billion drachmas from 160 billion drachmas in the session before.

    Buy orders accounted for around 68 billion drachmas of trade.

    Drachma/dollar rate continues moving higher: The drachma strengthened further against the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market, following the euro's recovery against the US currency in international markets on Friday.

    The drachma rose to 389.110 drachmas per dollar at the day's fixing, up from 392.430 on Thursday.

    The Greek currency also moved closer to its central parity against the euro currency, at 340.590 drachmas.

    [21] AIDS control center on the spread of the AIDS epidemic within Greece

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    In an announcement to mark International AIDS day on Friday, the Health ministry stressed the role of men in spreading the disease among the heterosexual population, where the number of AIDS cases was increasing in recent years, particularly by infecting their wives and sexual partners.

    According to evidence presented by the Center for the Control of Special Diseases, international studies have shown that men tend to have more sexual partners and are less faithful than women and also resist using condoms. Most men, according to scientists, avoid discussing their extramarital affairs and react angrily, sometimes even violently, when asked to use condoms.

    While matching studies do not exist for Greece, the figures show that the AIDS epidemic in Greece is essentially based in the male population, with male patients accounting for 77 per cent of new cases reported last year.

    Noting the rise of the disease among heterosexuals, Deputy Health Minister Christina Spyraki stressed that AIDS was everyone's concern and not just of isolated population groups.

    In fact, the incidence of new AIDS cases among homosexual men has dropped by roughly 32 per cent a year between 1997-1999. Experts note the need to change male stereotypes in sexual behavior and attitude toward health, where males show much greater indifference than women.

    Meanwhile, a number of events were held throughout Athens on Friday to increase public awareness about AIDS, particularly safe sex.

    The number of AIDS cases reported in Greece so far come to 2,107, with several patients already dead. The highest number of cases were diagnosed in 1991 and in 1997, while the number of new cases diagnosed in the last two years has been relatively stable. The number of AIDS deaths has also fallen due to the introduction of "drug cocktails" to treat the disease.

    According to WHO, there are more than 36 million people suffering from AIDS worldwide, many of them in Africa, while 5.5 million are estimated to have become infected just in the year 2000.

    In the same year, roughly three million people died of AIDS, 500,000 of them children. Some 20 million have died from the disease since it first appeared, according to UNICEF.

    Karamanlis visits AIDS center: Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis marked International AIDS day on Friday by visiting the "Life Center" AIDS hospice in Athens.

    Afterward, he said that AIDS continued to be a serious threat to modern society, despite the progress made by science. He stressed that efforts must be focused on fighting ignorance, fear and prejudice, especially among the young.

    [22] Paris street named after opera singer Maria Callas

    PARIS, 02/12/2000 (ANA - O. Tsipira)

    Paris Mayor Jean Tiberi on Friday officially renamed a small street for renowned opera performer Maria Callas, who died here in 1977 in what was thought to be mysterious circumstances.

    The apartment where Callas lived her final days on the Avenue Georges Mandel overlooks the tree-lined street named "Allee Maria Callas", in the 16th district of Paris.

    A commemorating plaque was placed at the street invoking memories of the diva as it notes "Allee Maria Callas (1923-1977) artist lyrique".

    "With her miraculous voice, Callas deeply altered operatic traditions," Tiberi said, adding, "with her genius, she left her mark on the history of music."

    The ceremony, attended by Greek Ambassador Ilias Klis, was held on the eve of a long-awaited auction of Callas' personal belongings, including a pair of silk stockings and the white mink coat Onassis gave her.

    "Due to her temperament, as well as her Greek heritage of millennia, Maria Callas was able to bring together theatre skills with musical drama and to express human pathos in the best possible way," Klis said.

    The auction features 415 lots, from the most intimate apparel to family albums and fan letters addressed only to "La Divina."

    Callas ended her opera career at the Paris Opera House in June 1965 following a performance of Bellini's "Norma", one of her most critically acclaimed roles, and then withdrew to Paris for the next 12 years.

    [23] UNICEF to organize Greek telethon for world's street children in collaboration with state television

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    A UNICEF 'love' telethon for street children, organized in collaboration with the state television channel NET, is to take place on Monday, December 11 - officially designated as Street Children Day for this year.

    According to UNICEF, hundreds of millions of children have to live, work and survive on city streets around the world, becoming easy prey to every kind of abuse and exploitation.

    The telethon will be presented by journalist Pavlos Alepis and will be live, starting at 6:00 p.m. and continuing until the early hours of the next morning, with a number of guest stars and celebrities appearing. Parallel to the telethon, a series of events are to take place at the Gazi exhibition and events center in Athens.

    In addition, organizers have made great efforts to involve and sensitize young people to the plight of street children, on an unprecedented level for Greece, with dozens of schools and citizens' groups contributing to the events, which will be covered by NET and ET1 reporters in Greece and all over the world.

    Bank accounts for those wishing to contribute are:

    National Bank of Greece: 169/480020-64

    Commercial Bank of Greece: 031/80191081

    CITIBANK (Ambelokipi): 5502346484

    Agricultural Bank of Greece: 017-04004416-70

    [24] "Eleftherios Venizelos" Studies and Research Foundation honors Parliament President Kaklamanis

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    The Eleftherios Venizelos Studies and Research Foundation honored Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis at a ceremony held in Hania, Crete, on Friday night.

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis, deputies and local authorities, attended the event.

    "Eleftherios Venizelos, the great Cretan, Greek, Balkan and European politician was the most important statesman produced by modern-day Hellenism," Kaklamanis said during his address.

    [25] Britain's Ashdown in Athens next week for lecture on globalization

    Athens, 02/12/2000 (ANA)

    Sir Paddy Ashdown, the former leader of the Liberal Democratic Party in the United Kingdom and noted authority on the Balkans, will give a public lecture at a downtown Athens hotel on Tuesday.

    The British politician's lecture, entitled "The Silent Revolution: Globalization - the Role of National Governments and International Organizations", will focus on the effects and consequences of globalization, and the increasing need for global convergence in the "post-nation state era", as a press release by the British embassy in Athens puts it.

    Sir Paddy was the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party from 1988 to 1999, during which time the Liberal Democrats became the second party of local government in the UK.

    The lecture will begin at 8 p.m. at the Grande Bretagne Hotel.

    [26] Clerides says Cyprus peace talks going through crucial phase due to Denktash's attitude

    NICOSIA, 02/12/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    President Glafcos Clerides on Friday said the Cyprus question is going through a crucial phase, adding it appears that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, backed by Ankara, will withdraw from the UN-led peace talks.

    He said that if this is the case, then the Turkish side should bear the responsibility, criticizing Denktash because he is "refusing to negotiate within the framework set out in UN resolutions and wants to walk out of the talks."

    Speaking to trainees from the National Defense School of Greece, on a visit here, President Clerides also underlined the need for a Cyprus settlement based on UN Security Council resolutions.

    "Our wish was and is to find a just, viable and workable solution to the Cyprus problem within the parameters set out in Security Council resolutions," he said.

    After a meeting in Ankara last week, Denktash described the five rounds of UN proximity talks on Cyprus that got underway last December as "a waste of time".

    With the full backing of Turkish Premier Bulent Ecevit, he also said he will not participate in the talks unless his preconditions are met, including the recognition of the illegal regime in the areas of Cyprus occupied by Turkey since 1974.

    The issue is expected to be discussed here during meetings with the UN Secretary - General's special adviser for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, who is conducting the talks.

    De Soto is currently in Ankara, after meetings in Athens yesterday, and is scheduled to arrive in Cyprus on Sunday.

    Kofi Annan invited President Clerides and Denktash to continue the proximity talks in Geneva, end of January.

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