|Friday, 23 October 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-12-07
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Greece, Turkey reach first CBMs agreement, under NATO auspices
BRUSSELS, 07/12/2000 (ANA G. Zitouniati)NATO General Secretary Lord Robertson on Wednesday announced that Greece and Turkey reached an agreement to notify each other regarding their national armed forces exercises.
He said that the agreement was reached during discussions between the Greek and Turkish permanent representatives to NATO, for the striking of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) between the two countries, which are held under NATO auspices.
Robertson said that this was the first agreement of the discussions, noting that the notification of exercises will take place during the annual NATO conference on exercise schedules.
In his statement, Robertson said that this mutual notification would allow both sides to preempt problems, which could have been caused by the temporal or locality overlap of exercises.
In case of changes in scheduling, he said, the two sides would inform each other via the regular diplomatic channels, as cases arise.
The first mutual notification will take place in Dec. 11-12, during the NATO conference in Naples, Italy.
Discussions between Greece and Turkey for CBMs begun in November and this was the first success of the talks. Robertson called the agreement an "encouraging beginning" and expressed his wish for the continuation of talks in efforts to resolve the rest of the CBMs' issues.
NATO secretary general: NATO secretary general Lord Robertson met National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and his Turkish counterpart Sabahattin Cakmakoglu here on Wednesday.
He expressed satisfaction over the course of negotiations on confidence-building measures (CBMs) between Greece and Turkey after taking place at ambassadorial level under NATO's auspices.
During the "tripartite" meeting, held on the sidelines of NATO's ministerial session, Robertson briefed the ministers on the positive development of talks on CBMs and the "convergence atmosphere" he is ascertaining, adding that some important agreement is expected to be announced soon.
According to diplomatic sources, it will be an agreement concerning the decrease of "friction" at military level between the two countries and anticipates the mutual notification of national exercises, on the sidelines of NATO's annual session in Naples on December 11-12, to avoid overlapping.
It is the first agreement between the two countries in the framework of CBMs on so-called "high policy" issues related to a decrease in friction in the Aegean from a military point of view.
Robertson told the two ministers he does not intend to transfer the level of discussions on CBMs higher than that currently being conducted and expressed the hope that other negotiations on similar issues will continue with the same tempo and the respective constructive spirit.
Tsohatzopoulos had the opportunity of stressing the importance of the multinational military force starting operational capacity (as of January 1, 2001) for the security of southeastern Europe, regarding a regional character, and its utilization in Bosnia and Kosovo in particular.
 Greek Defense Minister address need of European security and defense
PARIS, 07/12/2000 (ANA - O. Tsipira)Greek National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos addressed the West European Union's (WEU) 46th Parliamentary Assembly on Wednesday, focusing on the needs of European security and defense.
Tsohatzopoulos made his address in his capacity as West European Armaments Group (WEAG) representative. Greece held the group's presidency over the past two years and handed it to Italy a few days ago.
Tsohatzopoulos said the fact that the ratification of the European security and defense policy, as well as measures anticipated to enable the EU to obtain necessary infrastructures by 2003, will be decided in Nice on Thursday, following a proposal by the EU French presidency, is an important conjuncture.
Tsohatzopoulos hailed the decision taken by the European General Affairs Council, according to which member-states committed themselves in connection with the nature and volume of their military contributions. On their part, most European non-EU member-states stated their intention to contribute.
He said that in this way a bank of military infrastructures is being created in the EU and the EU's foreign policy is being speedily enlarged with security and defense elements.
In another development, Tsohatzopoulos met his US counterpart William Cohen in Brussels on Wednesday on the sidelines of NATO's ministerial session and discussed bilateral issues and Greece's role in southeastern Europe's security.
Tsohatzopoulos briefed Cohen on his upcoming visit to Belgrade on December 14 which is aimed at shaping an on-the-spot understanding of conditions prevailing in Yugoslavia and an exchange of views concerning the new dangers of destabilization in the region of Presevo and the security zone in Kosovo, as well as the activation of KFOR for protection from the Albanian side's extremist elements. Issues concerning cooperation at the level of technology and defense armaments were also discussed.
Replying to a questioner on the "contradiction" expressed by Cohen saying "to be concerned over the future of NATO from the development of European defense at a time when the alliance is hailing its promotion", Tsohatzopoulos said "the concern of the US over the EU's defense self-sufficiency is rational", but added that Cohen's stance at the session left no doubt as to the strengthening of the Euroatlantic ties between the US and the EU.
"Everything new creates some concern and questions at the beginning," he said and expressed the conviction they will be overcome later.
Tsohatzopoulos also met his Russian counterpart Igor Sergeyev with whom he is "cooperating closely" to support peace, security and stability both in Yugoslavia and Kosovo.
 EU Nice summit starts on Thursday with European Conference
NICE, 07/12/2000 (ANA - A. Podimata)The European Union's Nice summit will begin on Thursday morning with the convening of the European Conference, which will be attended by the EU's heads of state and government and their counterparts from the 13 candidate countries for accession.
The main issues to be discussed by the European Conference members are the EU's institutional reform, the future of enlarged Union and the possibility of other countries participating in the conference, such as countries from the western Balkans and the countries of the European Free Trade Zone.
The European Council will get underway in the afternoon with the official adoption of the Fundamental Rights Charter, while later it will discuss enlargement, economic and social issues and employment strategy, as well as the coordination of economic policies.
At 8 p.m. the heads of state and government will attend a dinner whose main topic of discussion will be the Intergovernmental Conference.
The traditional dinner for leaders of the European Socialist Party was held on Wednesday night. Foreign Minister George Papandreou represented Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit will participate for the first time in Thursday's European Conference, since it was enacted in 1998.
 Turkish PM leaves for Nice, comments on EU-Turkey partnership agreement; ND leader, gov't spokesman comments
ISTANBUL, 07/12/2000 (ANA - E. Aretaios)Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit left for Nice on Wednesday, to take part in the summit meeting of EU candidate countries and EU member-states. Prior to his departure, he told reporters that the EU-Turkey partnership document agreed on by EU ministers on Monday took into account Ankara's concerns over the Cyprus issue and the Aegean and was in agreement with the decisions of the Helsinki Summit.
Ecevit said that Turkey had not participated in the last summit of candidate countries in London in 1998 because of the crisis caused in EU-Turkey relations by the union's Luxembourg decision.
Asked if Cyprus proximity talks would resume after the Nice summit, Ecevit ruled out such a prospect and said that Turkey's stance on the Cyprus issue was clear.
The 15 EU foreign ministers agreed on an initial deal regarding the EU-Turkey partnership agreement on Monday, one day before Ankara's emergency talks with the IMF over a financial crisis and a related multi-billion-dollar loan entered their "final phase".
The document was also welcomed in Cyprus, with Cypriot foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides saying that it fully reflected the Helsinki summit decisions.
Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis, conversely, opposed the approved text on Tuesday, saying it weakened the "deficient and vague Helsinki conditions, and rather than committing Turkey it invites that country to express its opinions as an equal member."
Speaking from Nice on Wednesday, meanwhile, Karamanlis reiterated his criticism of the agreement, saying that it invited Turkey to a political dialogue without terms or commitments instead of being a binding and meaningful framework to bring Turkey closer to Europe and this at a time when Turkey was behaving in ways that were anything but "Europe-friendly."
His statements were commented on by government spokesman Telemachos Hytiris on Wednesday, who accused him of acting like an "irresponsible observer" and of indulging in petty party politics through his criticism of the Helsinki summit decisions.
The agreement: The agreement reached during an EU foreign ministers council meeting has two references of direct interest to Greece -- The first concerns Turkey's short-term commitments and anticipates that in 2001 the neighboring country, in the framework of political dialogue with the Union, must back the UN chief's efforts for a solution to the protracted Cyprus problem. This reference is in a paragraph entitled "short-term commitments" and "strengthened political dialogue and political criteria."
The second is included in a paragraph entitled "mid-term commitments" and "strengthened political dialogue and political criteria" and focuses on Turkey's commitment to resolve, in the medium term, its potential border differences with Greece in a peaceful way and based on decisions taken at the EU Helsinki summit, once again through resorting to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
On his part, Papandreou attributed the agreement reached concerning Turkey's degree of commitment in solving the Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish differences to the "ingenuity" of the European Union's French presidency, which included "controversial" issues in short-term and mid-term criteria, thereby satisfying Athens' demand for commitments with a timetable.
"The partnership relation, as a road map for Turkey's pre-accession course, constitutes a continuation and consequence of Helsinki," Papandreou said, adding that "a new era is also opening for Greek-Turkish relations" and the Cyprus issue.
 Karamanlis comments on directions of EPP in Nice, EU-Turkey partnership document
NICE, 07/12/2000 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis, in France to attend a European Peoples Party summit, told reporters on Wednesday that the summit would focus on the questions of European Union institutional reforms and enlargement.
"We take it for granted that established European and community rights will be preserved, as well as equal representation of smaller countries in EU bodies. In other words, we consider it inconceivable for the operational balance of the EU to be overturned," he said.
He added that his party was a warm supporter of a federalized EU and believed that bolder and more decisive steps had to be taken toward political unification.
He also supported European enlargement but made it clear that Cyprus should be among the countries in the first wave to join the EU, regardless of whether there had been a solution to the Cyprus problem.
Karamanlis said he was not satisfied with the text of the EU-Turkey partnership agreement document. Instead of a binding and meaningful framework to bring Turkey closer to Europe, he added, the text invited Turkey to a political dialogue without terms or commitments and this at a time when Turkey was behaving in ways that were anything but "Europe-friendly."
 Interior minister presents bill to reform public administration in Parliament
Athens, 07/12/2000 (ANA)Interior minister Vasso Papandreou, whose portfolio also takes in public administration issues, on Wednesday presented a bill to improve and upgrade the country's civil service sector in Parliament, for the consideration of the pertinent parliamentary committee.
At a press conference afterwards, Papandreou stressed that the bill aimed to improve services for citizens, making the civil service more effective, more citizen-friendly and easier to understand.
She said it included measurable goals and that services would be assessed on the basis of these and would be linked to a productivity bonus. She added that this incentives program would be revised every three years.
Another innovation, she said, would be afternoon or Saturday opening times in certain departments, in exchange for which employees would get extra time off but not extra money. She also presented surveys showing how the public, on the one hand, and civil service employees, on the other hand, viewed the prospects of afternoon and Saturday opening hours for state services.
According to these surveys, 86.2 per cent of the general public feels they would be better served if state services were open in the afternoons until 7:30 p.m. - particularly tax offices - while 58.2 per cent of civil servants view the prospect positively. Least keen on the prospect of afternoon hours are workers in tax offices.
The new bill also contains provisions to allow civil servants in charge of people with special needs or in one-parent families to work shorter hours and a clause that transfers responsibility for knocking down illegal buildings in forests from prefectural authorities to regional authorities.
 Noted Greek-American lobbyist speaks on Greek-US relations following presidential election
Athens, 07/12/2000 (ANA)A veteran Greek-American lobbyist on Wednesday emphasized here that Washington's stance towards Greece, the Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish difference will most remain the same with either a Bush or Gore administration come January.
Eugene Rossides, the founder of the well-known Washington-based lobbying group American Hellenic Institute (AHI) and former high-ranking US treasury department official, nevertheless broadly outlined the policy he anticipates that either of the two possible US administrations will follow vis-a-vis Greece and the Cyprus issue.
Interestingly enough, Rossides predicted "no substantial change in a very cautious foreign policy" followed by a George Bush Jr. administration.
He spoke at an event organized by the Athens-based Panteion University's Institute for Foreign Affairs on the issue of "Repercussions from the Latest US Elections on Relations between Athens and Washington."
"The only possible change in a Bush administration would be that it may not pressure the Greek Cypriots," he stressed.
Conversely, the veteran Greek-American attorney, one of the chief lobbyists that pushed for the US arms embargo against Turkey in the mid-70s, said Al Gore's foreign policy team will probably not change the Clinton administration's "pro-Turkish tilt" on the Cyprus issue, as he called it.
Rossides projected that more pressure will directed only at the Greek Cypriot side if the US vice-president succeeds in finally winning the presidential election. He also chided the current Clinton-Gore administration for not taking a stand in favor of international legality in relation to Ankara's various claims in the Aegean.
His picks for possible secretaries of state: Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice for the Republicans, and Richard Holbrooke or maybe even Leon Furth for the Democrats.
As far as the current US ambassador to Athens is concerned, the former Nixon administration treasury official had nothing but praise.
"Nicholas Burns highlighted Greece's role in the region ... Despite some disagreements I may have with him, overall, he has done a magnificent job in my opinion," Rossides said, adding that public opinion in the United States now views Greece and Cyprus as "prosperous democracies" in an often turbulent region.
Finally, in describing the political mood in the United States more than three weeks after the election cliffhanger continues to linger, Rossides said people in the US "are less concerned than several other countries.
"The US election was not about a clash of principles and ideology. American society is not polarized. Differences exist, of course, but they are not as wide as, say, between European conservatives and socialists."
 Parliament President receives Hellenic-American Institute presidium
Athens, 07/12/2000 (ANA)Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis on Wednesday met with the presidium of the Hellenic-American Institute and discussed what he called the United States' inconsistency toward the resolutions of the United Nations.
He said that the US "is inconsistent in supporting the implementation of UN resolutions, that they have signed", regarding the withdrawal of the Turkish armed forces in Cyprus.
He stressed that the US with "their interventions in Iraq and Kosovo created more problems that they solved," noting that the US "may find themselves in Turkey in the same position as they found themselves overnight during the fall of the Iranian regime in 1979".
 US Senate ratifies bilateral Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty
Athens, 07/12/2000 (ANA)The US Senate has ratified a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLATA) between Greece and the United States.
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his US counterpart Madeleine Albright first signed the treaty in May 1999, whereas it was ratified by Greece's Parliament at the beginning of the year.
Among others, the agreement outlines bilateral law enforcement cooperation and allows for the exchange of information related to criminal investigations.
"We believe that this treaty is yet another example of the excellent cooperation between the United States and Greece in the law enforcement sector," US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns said in referring to the ratification.
 Coalition leader visits judges' union to discuss issues pertaining to justice
Athens, 07/12/2000 (ANA)Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos visited the Union of Judges and Public Prosecutors on Wednesday to discuss judicial issues and the amendments of the Constitutional revision that concern justice.
In statements afterward, Constantopoulos said there was a need to reinforce the role of the judiciary so that they could serve their function without conditions that effectively cancel this role.
 Parliament approves labor reform bill in outline
Athens, 07/12/2000 (ANA)The Parliament on Wednesday approved on principle the labor reform bill introduced by Labor Minister Tassos Giannitsis on Monday, following a multi-round discussion by deputies of all parties.
Ruling PASOK deputies voted for the bill, unlike their opposition counterparts.
In introducing the bill, Giannitsis said that the measures prescribed by the bill would create 300,000 new full time jobs by the year 2004.
On her part, main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy Marietta Koutsikou said that the bill was basing its success on the possibility of a short-term employment of unskilled workers.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputy Spyros Striftaris criticized the bill, saying that part-time employment was not the answer to unemployment.
The bill prescribes funding for workers' pensions in the event that they completed 35 years of employment or have recorded contributions to the social security fund of 10,500 insurance stamps and are at least 55 years old, meanwhile changing employer-employee relations.
 Strike to affect all public transports on Thursday
Athens, 07/12/2000 (ANA)Public transports throughout Greece, including the recently inaugurated Athens metro, are expected to come to a halt on Thursday as part of a nation-wide 24-hour strike against the government's proposed labor reforms.
State-run Olympic Airways will schedule one flight per route, while train employees and passenger shipping workers will also join the strike. Specifically, ferryboats will stop disembarking from Piraeus for 24 hours starting at dawn on Thursday.
The strike will affect practically all civil service sectors, state-owned utilities, banks, the post office and even public hospitals.
A keynote rally is set for the Pedion tou Areos square in downtown Athens at 11 a.m. whereas other rallies are scheduled in other major cities.
Among others, labor unions want implementation of a 35-hour workweek without a reduction in pay.
 Athens bourse jumps 5.74 percent higher
Athens, 07/12/2000 (ANA)Equity prices ended Wednesday's session sharply higher on the Athens Stock Exchange, a development combined with a significant improvement in turnover was seen by traders as evidence of a steady recovery of the market.
Traders said that bold economic measures announced by the government in the previous two days and a spectacular rebound in international bourses helped in the improvement of climate in the domestic market.
Blue chip stocks, particularly banks and telecommunications, attracted heavy demand pushing several shares sharply lower. Alpha Bank led the list of gainers (up 11.64 percent), followed by Panafon (up 10.9 pct), Hellenic Telecoms (up 4.85 pct) while Cosmote jumped 6.9 percent above its entry price.
The general index ended 5.74 percent higher at 3,531.07 points, off the day's highs of 6.53 percent, with turnover a hefty 124.73 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 6.36 percent higher at 2,137.02 points, while the FTSE/ASE 40 index rose 4.45 percent to 447.66 points.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 7,917.58 +6.88% Leasing: 697.27 +3.79% Insurance: 1,718.66 +4.11% Investment: 1,446.02 +7.52% Construction: 1,471.65 +4.60% Industrials: 2,255.25 +4.07% Miscellaneous: 3,274.61 +3.15% Holding: 4,367.24 +2.70%
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 3.80 percent higher at 374.14 points.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 336 to 16 with another five issues unchanged.
Alpha Bank, Hellenic Telecoms, National Bank, Panafon, Cosmote and Commercial Bank were the most heavily traded stocks.
Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): Alpha Bank: 14,000 Eurobank: 9,950 Panafon: 3,260 Viohalco: 4,585 Lambrakis Press: 6,090 National Bank: 14,910
Hellenic Petroleum: 3,860 Commercial Bank: 18,800 Attica Enterprises: 3,145 Intracom: 9,430 Hellenic Telecoms: 6,020 Piraeus Bank: 6,000 Titan Cement (c): 15,000 Hellenic Bottling: 6,255 Altec: 3,410
Equity futures end up, tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished higher on Wednesday, in line with the bourse indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 6.36 percent up, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 4.46 percent higher.
Turnover was 37.5 billion drachmas.
A total of 7,105 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 30.4 billion drachmas.
On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 3,816 contracts changed hands on turnover of 7.0 billion drachmas.
Secondary bond market turnover hits record high: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Wednesday finished higher in heavy trade, recording the highest turnover ever, fuelled by cash from abroad.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.610 percent from 5.650 percent in the previous session.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 68 basis points, the same as a day earlier.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 292 billion drachmas from 122 billion drachmas in the session before.
Buy orders accounted for around 192 billion drachmas of trade.
Drachma/dollar rate resumes up trend: The drachma resumed its upward trend against the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market on Wednesday, after Tuesday's fall, following the euro's advance above the 88 cents against the dollar in international markets.
The Greek currency rose to 385.180 drachmas per dollar at the day's fixing, from 386.300 the previous day.
The drachma was unchanged against the euro currency at 340.640 drachmas per euro.
ADEX turnover up 26 percent in November: Turnover volume on the Athens Derivatives Exchange improved significantly in November, totalling 298,638 contracts from 236,370 contracts the previous month, an increase of 26 percent, official figures showed on Wednesday.
The same increase, 26 percent, showed the average daily transactions in November, to 6,787 contracts from 5,373 in October.
Future contracts on the FTSE/ASE 20 index rose 26.6 percent in turnover to a daily average of 3,649 contracts, up from 2,882 in October.
Future contracts on the FTSE/ASE Mid 40 index increased 17.6 percent to a daily average of 2,017 contracts from 1,715 the previous month.
Future contracts on Greek state bonds jumped 34.9 percent in turnover to a daily average of 768 contracts, from 569 in October.
Official ADEX figures also showed a 15.6 percent rise in client codes in November from the previous month.
 Gov't awards wireless phone licenses after early end to tender
Athens, 07/12/2000 (ANA)The government on Wednesday chose the highest bidders in a tender for six wireless fixed-line phone licenses in a move that will end a monopoly in the market.
The winners for the 3.5 GHz frequency were Europrom (bidding at 2.2 billion drachmas) and Quest Wireless (at 1.5 billion drachmas). A third license in the category was not awarded due a lack of interest by bidders, and will probably be re-tendered.
Winning the 25 GHz category - the most popular of the two - were Europrom (3.3 billion drachmas); a consortium formed by Public Power Corporation Telecommunications, NBG Greek Fund Limited (National Bank of Greece), Alpha Investment Holding SA (Alpha Bank) and General Bank of Greece (3.01 billion drachmas); Mediterranean Eurozone Services SA (2.92 billion drachmas); and Panafon (2.77 billion drachmas).
The tender began on Monday and its cumulative bidding process was expected to last until Friday but a reluctance by participants to raise their bids brought an early close to the 13-round tender.
The government is to receive about 20 billion drachmas from the licenses, including permits sold to state Hellenic Telecommunications Organization.
The lack of enthusiasm mirrors similar wireless phone tenders held in other countries.
The final bidder, Ideal Wireless, was not awarded a license. Another bidder, KEASAP, had pulled out of the tender before offers were submitted.
On the first day of bidding, the offers, excluding OTE, had totalled around 17 billion drachmas.
Under the terms of the licenses, the winners are committed to providing services for at least 20 percent of the population within two years from award of the license.
On January 1, 2001, state-owned OTE, which is a heavily traded stock on the Athens bourse, loses its monopoly in the fixed-line telephone market in line with European Union directives.
 Money Show to be held in Thessaloniki Dec 9-10
Athens, 07/12/2000 (ANA)The Thessaloniki Money Show, an annual event, will be held on December 9-10 at the city's Hyatt Hotel.
Exhibiting a range of financial services, the money show is organized by the Association of Northern Greek Industrialists, Organotechnica and Ericsson Hellas under the aegis of the Hellenic-German Chamber of Trade and Industry.
In addition, more than 250 speakers are due to speak at the money show's demonstrations and forums.
From 2001, the Thessaloniki Money Show will also be held abroad, beginning with New York. It will later take place in London, Frankfurt and Tokyo, the organizers told a news conference on Wednesday.
 Companies to add euro prices Jan.1
Athens, 07/12/2000 (ANA)Companies will be legally obliged to state the price of their products in euros as well as drachmas from January 1, 2001, the finance ministry said on Wednesday.
Greece joins the euro zone on the same date, which means the euro becomes a national currency.
Exempted from the finance ministry ruling are small companies with a staff of less than 10. They will begin marking prices in euros from March 1, 2001.
 Release of public investment funds proceeding at brisk pace
Athens, 07/12/2000 (ANA)The national economy ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that the release of funds for public investments was moving swiftly.
In addition, 80.2 percent of public works for 2000 had been completed by the end of November, the statement said.
 Capital Markets' Committee approves ATE listing
Athens, 07/12/2000 (ANA)Greece's Capital Markets' Committee on Wednesday approved Agricultural Bank's initial public offering paving the way for the bank's listing on the main market of the Athens Stock Exchange.
The plan envisages issuance of 13,496,500 new common nominal shares, of which 11,496,500 will be offered through a public offering and the remaining 2,000,000 shares will be held by the Greek state.
 Greece adopts EU rules on consumer protection
Athens, 07/12/2000 (ANA)Greece on Wednesday adopted EU rules on consumer protection from distance sales and collective advertisement, harmonizing the country's existing regulatory framework to EU directives with a ministerial decision signed on the initiative of Development Deputy Minister Milena Apostolaki.
The decision envisages that suppliers are obliged to offer detailed information to consumers over the company's data, product specifications, payment terms, before signing of a contract. It also envisages extending the time period for a consumer to withdraw its interest on a product to three months, from 15 days currently.
 Greek-US cooperation in economic sectors
WASHINGTON, 07/12/2000 (ANA - T. Ellis)Greece's Ambassador to Washington Alexander Philon discussed economic and trade relations between Greece and the United States, as well as possibilities of joint business activities, with the Governor of Virginia James Gilmore during a visit to the state capital Richmond.
A general review of Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue was also made, while Gilmore referred to visits he has made to Greece in the past with his wife, who is an archaeologist and a professor of classical studies.
Philon met with the presidents of Richmond and Randolph Macon universities with whom he discussed educational exchange programs and, primarily, excavations in the ancient market of Athens, which the Randolph Macon university has been conducting for years.
He also addressed the World Affairs Council in Richmond on the priorities of Greek foreign policy, placing emphasis on progress achieved by the country over the past 50 years since the disaster of World War Two and the Greek Civil War.
 Clerides hits back over Denktash's refusal to talk
LARNACA, 07/12/2000 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides on Wednesday said that if Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash does not respond to an invitation by the UN Secretary-General to participate in the next round of proximity talks aimed at reaching a settlement on the island, then the issue must go before the Security Council.
Speaking on his departure for Nice, France, where the European Union summit will be held, President Clerides expressed satisfaction with the eventual inclusion of the Cyprus issue in the Union's partnership agreement with Turkey, under Ankara's short-term obligations.
He noted that if Denktash has Ankara's backing in his refusal to attend further the Cyprus talks, this would mean Turkey is not in line with its partnership agreement with the EU.
"It appears that Mr. Denktash has decided he does not want to participate in proximity talks," President Clerides said, noting that the invitation extended by Kofi Annan last month still stands.
"If Mr. Denktash sticks to his position and does not attend talks," he added, "then the issue must be raised at the Security Council so that it is informed and takes decisions". The Cyprus President said this is what he expects from the UN, as it would mean that Denktash is not cooperating with the Secretary General in his good offices mission.
The UN-led proximity talks, opened last December, aim at reaching a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus, divided since Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of its territory in 1974. Five rounds of talks have been held so far.
Replying to questions on Turkey's accession partnership agreement, President Clerides pointed to two elements he considers significant.
"It is important that the Cyprus question is part of Turkey's short term obligations and it is also important to me that every six months Turkey's stance will be assessed," he said.
He explained that "this means Europe is obliged to assess Turkey's position on the Cyprus issue, within the framework of the areas in which it must show progress."
Replying to a remark that despite the agreement reached in Brussels on Monday with Turkey's approval, Ankara allowed Denktash not to participate in the UN-led Cyprus talks, Clerides said "it is not yet so certain that Turkey has backed Mr. Denktash". He said this issue will be clarified soon and noted that 80 percent of the Turkish press has criticized the Turkish Cypriot leader for his decision.
President Clerides refrained from expressing his view as to whether Denktash will return to the negotiating table or not, but underlined that "if no progress on the Cyprus issue is achieved and Mr. Denktash does not participate in talks, then it will be considered as a lack of good will on his part."
He added that if the Turkish Cypriot leader "has Ankara's backing, this would mean that Turkey is stepping out of its accession partnership agreement and must take the blame."
Replying to other questions, President Clerides said he did not believe Denktash's status would be upgraded if he was to speak before the UN Security Council.
"He has often spoken before the Security Council as the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, as I have spoken before the Security Council when I was the negotiator on behalf of the Greek Cypriot community," he added.
The Cyprus president noted that article 39 gives the Security Council the right to hear people representing groups, but not states.
President Clerides expressed satisfaction with the Secretary-General's report to the Security Council on the UN operation in Cyprus, approved on Tuesday, but noted he has not yet received the full text.