|Monday, 11 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-12-13
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Prime Minister and EU employment commissioner address conference on "Information Society" in Athens
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)Opening a three-day conference on "The Information Society" on Tuesday, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said that the government's primary goal in the coming years would be to open the gates of the information society to all Greek citizens. He said that the effort would be funded by nearly one trillion drachmas made available to Greece for this purpose by the third Community Support Framework (3rd CSF).
Simitis was addressing a packed audience, in which almost the entire cabinet, numerous parliamentary deputies, a host of business people, bank governors and chairmen of organizations were present. The National Economy ministry and the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Ministry organized the conference jointly.
In his speech, the prime minister particularly stressed the goal of equal participation by all sections of society in the use of new technologies in order to promote social cohesion.
"We do not want a bipolar society, in which digital illiteracy feeds and consolidates inequalities," he underlined, saying that such a divided society would lead to an economy with a limited ability to respond to the challenges of globalization.
Taking the stand after the prime minister, Greek European Commissioner for employment Anna Diamantopoulou outlined how the sums provided by the 3rd CSF would be allocated.
According to Diamantopoulou, about 20 per cent would be spent on training and culture, while up to 72 per cent of primary schools would be equipped with computers by 2006 - up from almost none today.
In secondary education, schools would be fully IT and Internet-enabled by 2006, with 100,000 new staff trained in computers instead to 8,000 as at present.
Another 30 per cent of 3rd CSF funds, she said, would be used to improve quality of life and services for citizens.
Employment and the new economy will absorb another 30 per cent, with programs to increase the number of small- and medium-sized enterprises active in e-commerce and 5,000 training spots in IT skills by 2006, while another 50,000 will receive certificates as computer operators and 47,000 new jobs will be created in the information technology and communications sectors.
Finally, the EU Commissioner announced that 20 per cent of CSF funds would be allocated to communications, with investments in this sector giving Greece the highest competitiveness rating within the EU.
She particularly stressed the current skills deficit in the new technology sector, predicting that the number of new jobs in the Internet, particularly, would double to 2,000 by 2003.
Nat. Economy minister presents plans to promote an information society using 3rd CSF funds: National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou told a conference on "The Information Society" that began here on Tuesday that a special fund for the support of the new economy (TANEO) would be put together over the next few days.
He said the new fund would start off with 450 million euros from the government's coffers and that its main aim would be to assist small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) develop activity in the new economy sector.
He also announced that access to the New Stock Exchange (NEXA) would be made easier for SMEs, which would also receive a significant amount of money from the third Community Support Framework (CSF).
Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Greek European Commissioner addressed the three-day conference earlier for employment, Anna Diamantopoulou. The National Economy and Interior ministries organized the conference jointly.
Papantoniou stressed the need to support nascent new technology firms, which he said needed the support of the banking system and particularly venture capital firms.
He also presented a detailed breakdown of how the one trillion drachmas made available under the 3rd CSF for promoting information technology would be allocated.
 Reppas expresses full satisfaction over outcome of EU Nice summit
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas on Tuesday expressed satisfaction over the outcome of the European Union's Nice summit, saying the government achieved its targets.
He added that the right of veto remains on foreign policy and shipping issues and in relation to financing programs.
Reppas also expressed the government's satisfaction over the secured number of Eurodeputies for Greece and hailed the European Union-Turkey partnership agreement, which, as he said, "went well for us."
Referring to reactions by opposition parties, Reppas said they are probably unaware of the EU's internal affairs, adding that their accusations "are groundless and untenable".
Former PM Mitsotakis' views on EU Nice summit differ from party line: The greatest danger in foreign policy is to make one's desires policy, Former Prime Minister and main opposition New Democracy party Honorary President Constantine Mitsotakis said on Tuesday referring to the European Union's Nice summit.
He added that realism and truth are required in foreign policy making, he called the Nice summit outcome unavoidable, expressing a differing view from ND leader Costas Karamanlis.
He said that a step ahead was taken for Europe and that Greece safeguarded its interests in the best way it could.
Addressing the party's Parliamentary Group on Monday, Karamanlis had said the outcome of the summit is "wretched", European leadership does not live up to expectations and the Europe which has been envisaged requires greater boldness.
Karamanlis had also said that whatever decisions were taken by the EU in the long run do not serve national interests, primarily on the EU-Turkey partnership agreement.
 PASOK Eurodeputy addresses European Parliament on outcome of Nice Intergovernmental Conference
STRASBOURG, 13/12/2000 (ANA - O. Tsipira)Addressing on Tuesday a European Parliament plenum on the outcome of the Intergovernmental Conference in Nice, PASOK Eurodeputy Dimitris Tsatsos said the way in which the European Parliament will judge the Nice Treaty would depend on two conditions.
Tsatsos, who was one of the European Parliament's two rapporteurs at the Intergovernmental Conference, said one condition is to what degree institutions become more effective in functioning and the other to what degree effectiveness will be accompanied absolutely and strictly by legalization guarantees.
He conceded that some steps were taken in these two sectors, but added that "the Treaty's defects have a greater weight."
Tsatsos said this is so because in a number of legislative issues in which unanimity was abolished, the right of the European Parliament to jointly decide is not enacted, while the Treaty's text does not mention the Fundamental Rights Charter.
Other reasons are, according to Tsatsos, that the European Parliament does not jointly act adequately in the strengthened cooperation process and main sectors continue to rely on unanimity, while the system of taking decisions at the Council does include the principle of a double majority but, however, it has become quite complicated and has reduced the balance between big and small countries.
Tsatsos termed the Treaty "inadequate to bad", adding that the European Parliament will find itself in a great dilemma at the beginning of the new year when it will have to make the final assessment of the Treaty.
 Dates for Yugoslav president's Athens visit pending
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)The Greek government on Tuesday said the date for an upcoming visit to Athens by new Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica has not been set as yet.
A government spokesman also told reporters at a regular daily briefing that such a visit is definitely not scheduled for this week. Spokesman Dimitris Reppas added, however, that diplomatic consultations between Belgrade and Athens are underway to pinpoint a date for Kostunica's official visit to this east Mediterranean country.
The Serbian and Greek peoples have enjoyed traditionally close ties over time, while a bevy of Greek government officials and ministers have recently traveled to Belgrade in the wake of the Milosevic regime's election defeat and its replacement by a reform-minded federal government led by Kostunica.
Tsohatzopoulos in Belgrade this Thursday: Greek Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos is scheduled to visit Belgrade on Thursday for talks with Yugoslav leadership and his counterpart on bilateral issues and developments in the Balkans. New Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica will reportedly receive him as well.
 Minister briefs ex-premier on course of CBMs with Turkey
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)The latest developments in relations with Turkey, particularly talks over confidence-building measures (CBMs), were the focus of a meeting on Tuesday between National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis.
The defense minister received Mitsotakis, the honorary president of main opposition New Democracy, at the ministry following the latter's request.
Additionally, developments in the southern Balkans were discussed, while the ex-premier later told reporters that the issue of armaments programs for the Greek armed forces was not on the agenda.
 21 wounded Palestinians hospitalized in Greece
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)A Greek military transport plane carrying 21 Palestinians wounded in the recent West Bank violence landed at the Athens airport on Tuesday a little after 6 p.m.
Athens dispatched a C-130 "Hercules" earlier in the day to Israel at the request of the Palestinian authority's embassy to Greece. The plane also unloaded 100 million drachmas worth of humanitarian aid gathered by Palestinians in Greece, a defense ministry press release noted.
Seven children of the group were taken to Agia Sofia Children's hospital while the adults were taken to "KAT" and "Asklipiion Voulas", south of Athens.
Israel denies Arafat's claims of attacks against Christian churches: The Israeli Embassy in Athens on Tuesday denied claims by Yasser Arafat on a Greek television station on Monday that Israel supported attacks against dozens of churches.
"No churches have been attacked whatsoever. Mr. Arafat's allegations were not made by coincidence to a Greek audience," the press release stressed, adding that Palestinian militias were staging attacks against Israeli targets from Christian villages to elicit the in kind response by Israel.
 ND leading PASOK in MRB company's poll
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)The main opposition New Democracy party leads the ruling PASOK party with 33.3 percent to 30.7 percent in voters' preferences, according to a six-month opinion poll prepared by the MRB company, between November 22 and December 5 with 2,000 respondents, and publicized on Tuesday.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) comes third with 4.8 percent and is followed by the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) with 3.1 percent and the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) with 2.3 percent.
According to the poll, ND gains three voters from PASOK for every one it loses to the ruling party.
Another interesting aspect is that 21 percent of respondents said they would certainly vote for a party possibly created by Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos.
This percentage is stable compared to 1999 and less as against 1998.
An evaluation of data shows that a possible party by Avramopoulos would poll between 9.7 and 14.5 percent.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis continues to be considered the most suitable person for prime minister after 2004, when the governments current period of office ends, for 20.5 percent of citizens compared to 20.3 percent for ND leader Costas Karamanlis.
President Kostis Stephanopoulos continues to be the most popular politician in the country with 79.1 percent. He is followed in popularity by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos with 66.7 percent and Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos with 66.2 percent.
 Archbishop Christodoulos says that Europe is gradually becoming dechristianized
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos claimed on Tuesday that Europe is gradually becoming dechristianized and, referring to the recent European Union's summit in Nice, added that the "Europeans signed the Human rights Charter and ostracized Christianity".
Archbishop Christodoulos, in a sermon at the Agios Spyridon Church in the Athens district of Pangrati, said "the people are ashamed to say that the base of life is Christianity. And for this reason the word Christianity is found nowhere...it was ostracized by the French Presidency, which is in the grips of the French Revolution's permanent complex towards God and Christianity. This is an example of where we are heading."
He also said that what is happening in western Europe will soon come to Greece. "The wave of atheism sweeping across Europe might come here as well".
 Agriculture ministry to undergo structural changes, minister says
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)Minister of Agriculture Giorgos Anomeritis on Tuesday announced structural changes to the ministry, as it will be named "Ministry of Agriculture and Development of Rural Regions".
According to Anomeritis the structural changes include the abolition of two general secretariats, four general directorships, 13 directorships, 83 sections and 49 bureaus.
The personnel of the ministry's central services would be reduced to 1,000 employees from the current 8,600, as many of them will be transferred to other state services.
 Central bank to cut key intervention rates
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)The Bank of Greece, or central bank, will lower its key short-term intervention rates by 75 basis points on Wednesday as part of a long-term monetary alignment before the country's entry into the euro zone on January 1, 2001.
The latest decline brings drachma rates to around one percentage point above their euro-zone equivalents with the central bank's base rate now standing at 5.75 percent, the Bank of Greece said in a statement on Tuesday.
The cuts are as follows:
Shares slump on rumors of rate-cut postponement: Equities on the Athens Stock Exchange finished down on Tuesday on rumors that an anticipated central bank rate cut would be postponed.
Further hampering trade were technical problems in the electronic trading system that left players, mainly institutional, in the dark about the state of the market for much of the session.
Finally, the Bank of Greece announced a rate cut of 75 basis points effective on Wednesday but the move came to late to restore sentiment on the bourse.
The general index finished 1.97 percent lower at 3,612.66 points, with turnover slightly higher than the previous session at 114.03 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks closed 1.52 percent down, while the FTSE/ASE 40 index for medium capitalization shares fell by 2.54 percent.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: -1.05% Leasing: -2.84% Insurance: -2.66% Investment: -1.31% Construction: -2.88% Industrials: -3.00% Miscellaneous: -3.22 Holding: -3.18
The parallel market for smaller capitalization stocks ended 3.36 percent down.
Of 355 shares traded, declines led advances at 302 to 44 with nine remaining unchanged.
The most heavily traded stocks were National Bank of Greece, Piraeus Leasing and Q&R.
Main closing share prices (in drachmas): National Bank: 14,755 Alpha Bank: 13,350 Eurobank: 7,560 Lambrakis Press: 5,925 Hellenic Petroleum: 3,715 Commercial Bank: 18,145 Intracom: 9,340 Hellenic Telecoms: 5,950 Titan Cement (c): 14,590
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 1.52 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 2.54 percent lower.
Turnover was 12.6 billion drachmas.
A total of 2,389 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 10.2 billion drachmas.
On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 1,366 contracts changed hands on turnover of 2.4 billion drachmas.
Bond prices drop in sell-off: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Tuesday finished lower in moderate trade.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.64 percent from 5.59 percent in the previous session.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 61 basis points from 63 basis points a day earlier.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 165 billion drachmas from 212 billion drachmas in the session before.
Buy orders accounted for around 30 billion drachmas of trade.
Yield drops in gov't bond auction: The average weighted yield on three-year bonds auctioned by the government on Tuesday fell sharply to 5.01 percent from 5.64 percent in the last auction, held in October, the finance ministry said.
Auctioned to the market's primary dealers were 120 billion drachmas of paper with an annual coupon of 5.9 percent.
Offers totalled 579 billion drachmas in the sale, which was almost five times oversubscribed.
Drachma down vs. euro, dollar: The drachma on Tuesday ended lower against the euro and the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.
At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 340.740 drachmas from 340.730 drachmas in the previous session.
Also at the fix, the dollar was set at 387.620 drachmas from 386.600 drachmas a trading day earlier.
Budget revenue surplus hits Dr 765 bln: The budget's revenue surplus rose to 765 billion drachmas in January-November, the finance ministry said on Tuesday.
Revenue in the same period rose by 11.7 percent against a target of 3.4 percent growth set in the budget for 2000, the ministry said in a statement.
In November, the rise in revenue was 7.0 percent.
Among categories of revenue, the sharpest rise in November was shown in Value Added Tax, which jumped 34 percent.
 Greece to grant 22.6 million euro in aid package to Yugoslavia
BRUSSELS, 13/12/2000 (ANA - B. Demiri)Greece's contribution to the emergency fund for Yugoslavia will total 22.6 million euro, the Greek delegation to the committee of donor nations to Yugoslavia announced on Tuesday.
Greece will grant 17.6 million euro for immediate fiscal support, 4.2 million euro for foodstuffs, 80,000 euro in medical assistance and 780,000 euro in humanitarian aid.
 OTE Consulting sets up subsidiary in Romania
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)OTE Consulting, which belongs to the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization Group, has set up a subsidiary in Romania, it said on Tuesday.
The new firm, named Advanced Technical and Business Consulting SRL has start-up capital of $100,000, the Greek company said in a statement.
Spurring the move was a $2.76-million deal OTE Consulting signed with Rom Telecom in October under which it would design a new network for the national telecom in Bucharest, the neighboring country's capital, the statement said.
 OSPA trade union federation warns of protest action over government bid to privatize Olympic Airways
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)The Federation of Civil Aviation Unions (OSPA), which represents workers at Greece's ailing state-run national carrier Olympic Airways (OA), said it would call its members to industrial action on Tuesday in protest over the government's latest move to privatize the problem airline.
The union says it is determined to make use of all legal avenues, as well as industrial mobilization, in order to keep OA intact and protect the rights of its workforce. This includes a campaign to inform public opinion during the holidays, through pickets at airports, motorway toll posts and market places and a seminar with the participation of parties, functionaries and other bodies to form a united front for resistance and solidarity.
OSPA charges that the invitation extended by the government to prospective foreign bidders for a strategic partnership in OA is deliberately general and vague and gives the impression that the government is trying to "shed" its political responsibilities for OA's present plight, as well as endangering the professional future of its 6,700 employees. The union insists that the company should remain state-run.
Finally, the union said it would seek to talk with the government, after which it would organize an open conference in the first half of January for trade unionists and other bodies.
 Parliament ratifies two most controversial clauses in labor bill
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)A Parliament plenum on Tuesday ratified the two most controversial clauses in the labor reform bill, concerning the settlement of working time and the new limits for businesses to dismiss staff.
The clauses 5 and 9 were ratified with 138 votes in favor and 128 against.
Clause 5 enables businesses, after an agreement has been reached with employees, to distribute 138 working hours throughout a year with an increased number of working hours in certain peak periods and a decreased number of working hours in periods of recession and on condition that an average 38-hour workweek will be enacted without employees' salaries being reduced.
Clause 9 anticipates that in the case of businesses employing between 20 and 200 people, the dismissal of five employees will be considered a "mass" dismissal from now on.
 The government expects to have bill on state insurance ready by mid-2001
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)The government will have prepared a new bill on state insurance in the first half of 2001, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Tuesday.
He said that the government had asked a foreign financial house to examine the issue and was expecting its report at the start of the new year.
Immediately afterward, Reppas said, the government would invite workers and employers to begin dialogue, which is expected to finish before May.
The spokesman said that the new measures would not affect "mature insurance rights" and that those who were near pension able age would get the amounts provided under present law.
 New Greek-Japanese chamber to focus on bilateral trade
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)Several noted business leaders, top government officials and diplomats were on hand at a downtown Athens hotel Tuesday for a ceremony marking the foundation of an all-important Greek-Japanese Chamber of Commerce.
The new chamber comes six years after a Greek-Japanese business union was first established.
According to the new chamber's leadership, priorities include increasing imports to Japan in order to help reverse Greece's large negative trade balance with the Far East nation; attracting Japanese investments and know-how to the east Mediterranean country; exploiting Greece's entrepreneurial inroads and position in the Balkans as well as presenting a clearer picture of the country's potential to Japanese business circles.
One of the areas already experiencing noteworthy growth is that of tourism, as Greece ranks as one of the top European destinations for Japanese tourists.
Well-known local university professor Panayiotis Athanassopoulos was elected as the first president of the chamber, with Mitsui firm's H. Murakami, an Athens-based executive, chosen as one of its vice-presidents.
Additionally, National Bank of Greece governor Theodoros Karatzas is one of four board members.
Among others, Tokyo's ambassador to Athens, Motoi Ohkubo, attended the ceremony.
 Laliotis presents facts and figures regarding ministry's record on environmental protection
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)According to Environment Minister Costas Laliotis, up to 20 per cent of Greek territory is protected under law as either a natural park, a region of exceptional natural beauty, a marine park, a site of archaeological interest, a game reserve, a special protected zone or a mountain range above 900 meters.
Outlining the ministry's activities to protect, highlight and manage the natural environment, the minister said that there were
268 such protected areas within the country, for which the government had allocated 19.5 billion drachmas between 1995 and 2000 that were being gradually absorbed by various projects currently underway.
According to Laliotis, the 3rd Community Support Framework provided 16.5 billion drachmas to continue and complete programs for the protection and improvement of the natural environment, as well as new programs arising by making use of the results of national planning.
The minister also pointed out that a project to restore the ecosystem of the Karla Lake in Thessaly had been included in the ministry's planning as an individual program with funds of 45 billion drachmas.
The Environment minister said that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had recognized that Greece had made great efforts in recent years to preserve and manage its ecosystems and protected areas, and to take measures for the promotion of environmental programs.
Asked about the government's attempt to change article 24 of the constitution on the protection of forests - a move condemned by environmentalists in Greece - Laliotis said that the proposed amendment was now being discussed so as to find the best possible compromise.
With regard to the role of the Council of State, which had thrown out the proposed amendment as unconstitutional, Laliotis said that the role of Greece's highest administrative court had to be defined. "We can't have the CoS legislating," he said, "that is the work of Parliament."
 Aegean ministry put in charge of natural and man-made environment on Aegean islands
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)Under a new presidential decree, the Aegean Ministry will now be responsible for protecting the natural and man-made environment of all Aegean islands.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Aegean Minister Nikos Sifounakis said the ministry would now have the powers it needed to carry out its contemporary role and acquire the means to process and implement new policies. He stressed that the Aegean ministry had been operating under the same legal status since it was founded 15 years ago, even though the situation on the islands had changed rapidly.
As of January 1, 2001, he said, the ministry would be in charge of approving and monitoring building work of all kinds, including on the island's traditional architecture, arbitrate objections, carry out and assign surveying work and carry out public works.
 Transport and communications ministry issues new civil aviation regulations, postal service criteria
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)Greece acquired a new set of rules for air-traffic safety on Tuesday, when Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis signed the new National Regulations for the Civil Aviation Service.
The new regulations will apply in all Greek airports, public or private, and all facilities outside the limits of airports that assist in the airports' operation and serve flights by Greek airline companies.
The new rules aim to ensure safety, regularity and effectiveness in civil aviation and to outline procedures, practices and measures to avoid and deal with activities aimed against civil aviation on the ground or in the air.
The new code has been sent to the Public Order ministry, after which it will be presented to the Council of State.
Meanwhile, Deputy Communications Minister Alekos Voulgaris established the criteria for setting up a postal service within Greece in a decision signed on Tuesday.
According to the ministry decision, postal companies must offer services of the same quality at accessible prices to all Greek citizens, regardless of where they live within the country, and on all days of the working week.
The Greek Post Offices will undertake the postal service in Greece, since the deadline for bids for partnership or management of the Greek Post Offices by foreign investors ended early on Tuesday morning. A deadline for offers for the Post Office Savings Accounts ends on Wednesday.
 Negotiations with abductors of military observers' may yield results
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)Negotiations with the abductors of two UN military observers', a Greek and a Polish national, were close to a successful end late on Tuesday night according to an envoy of the Georgian presidency, who was involved in the talks.
According to the official, abductors may release the two men as early as Tuesday evening.
Greek Captain Efstathios Kokkinidis and a Polish colonel were abducted last Sunday during a patrol in the area.
Negotiators are continuing to stay in Abkhazia's Konto gorge, while the reports said the UN observers are not pulling out of Abkhazia, but were merely stopping their activities in the gorge temporarily due to Sunday's abduction.
 Botsis journalism awards presented by Stephanopoulos
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Tuesday presented the Botsis Journalism awards, for the 19th consecutive year during an event in a central Athens hotel.
The "Athanasios Vassilios Botsis Foundation for the Promotion of Journalism" has been awarding prizes to journalists for their exceptional work and focus on the code of ethics.
Television reporter Alexis Papahelas, Reuters Photojournalist Yiannis Behrakis, Dimitris Gousidis, Yiannis Argyriou and Nina Vlahou were honored this year for the exemplary work in journalism.
Representatives of the press, political parties and journalism unions were present at the event.
 Athens 2004 team presents progress of projects to IOC executive committee
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)The Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) delegation on Tuesday presented the latest developments in projects for the Games in Athens to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive committee, in Lausanne.
ATHOC President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki heads the Greek delegation, which included ATHOC advisors Spyros Kapralos, Marton Simicek and Yiannis Pyrgiotis.
The IOC executive committee was chaired by IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, vice presidents Anita De Franz, Keba Mbaye, Richard Kevan Gosper, Thomas Bach, IOC executive committee members Un Yong Kim, Marc Hodler, Jacques Rogge, Zhenliang He, Gunilla Lindberg, Franco Carraro, Denis Oswald, Ottavio Cinquanta, Mario Vazquez Rana, Sergey Bubka and IOC member Richard Pound.
Following the presentation Daskalaki said that ICO executive committee members' statements were positive, adding "Athens is again on the right course, the work we have completed is important and is recognized".
She noted that the satisfactory progress of projects was due to "our harmonious cooperation with the government and personally with the (Greek) Prime Minister Costas Simitis and public agencies ... and to the strenuous efforts of all the staff and employees of Athens 2004".
 Venizelos and Floridis discuss upcoming bill to reform sports sector
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Deputy Sports Minister George Floridis met on Tuesday to discuss a new bill for the reform of professional football and other sports.
In statements afterward, Venizelos said that the bill intends to address five major problems, including financial transparency in football clubs and other sports organizations, regulating judicial proceedings related to sports, refereeing, soccer violence and doping.
 Athens News Agency to host Olympics coverage seminar
Athens, 13/12/2000 (ANA)The Athens News Agency (ANA) will organize a seminar at a downtown Athens hotel on Jan. 8-9 within the framework of the Association of Balkan News Agencies' (ABNA) activities. The seminar is entitled "Sports and the Olympic Games in the Digital Era."
Participants include the general directors and 25 other officials from the ABNA agencies, hailing from Albania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Greece, Moldova, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Romania and Turkey.
Greek Deputy Sports Minister George Floridis and Athens 2004 Olympics coordinating committee (ATHOC) President Yianna Angelopoulos Daskalaki have been invited to address the seminar.
The purpose of the seminar is to develop conditions for joint coverage of the Athens Games by ABNA members as well as to provide constant, reliable and the adequate news gathering for subscribers in the region.
 Turkey given 'clear message' in Nice, spokesman says
NICOSIA, 13/12/2000 (CNA/ANA)Turkey was given a clear message regarding the Cyprus question and its European Union accession course from the European Council held in Nice earlier this week and Monday's UN Security Council meeting, Cyprus Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou told his daily briefing on Tuesday.
Papapetrou also said statements made by the American Permanent Representative to the UN Richard Holbrooke, who was personally involved in the Cyprus peace effort, on the Turkish side's stance towards the UN-led proximity talks could also be viewed in this framework.
"The government's assessment is that the statement by the Security Council President and de Soto's statements add to the Nice decisions, where the 15 sent a message to Turkey and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash as to how they expect them to act," Papapetrou said.
Alvaro de Soto, the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser for Cyprus who has been conducting the proximity talks since they opened last December, on Monday briefed the Security Council members on his effort.
After the meeting Council President Sergey Lavrov said the members "welcomed and supported his (de Soto's) intention to continue with the process he initiated in November 1999 and urged all concerned to cooperate fully with him."
The spokesman noted de Soto on Monday said he would not accept Denktash's withdrawal from the talks and that the process would continue.
De Soto has conducted five rounds of proximity talks so far and the UN chief invited the two sides to resume talks in Geneva late January.
The Turkish Cypriot leader has said that the proximity talks, aimed at reaching a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus, divided since Turkish troops occupied 37 percent of its territory in 1974, have served their purpose and have come to an end.
Papapetrou took note of the Council president's reference to the continuation of the UN process and his call to all concerned to cooperate.
It is obvious that the statements made by Mr. Holbrooke also lie within this framework, he added.
According to the Athens News Agency, in statements to a Turkish newspaper the American official said the Turkish Cypriot leader's attitude is making the effort for a Cyprus settlement difficult.
Holbrooke also said that the main obstacle in the Cyprus effort is the fact that Denktash rejects a discussion if his conditions regarding the outcome are not met.
The Cyprus government spokesman said Ankara and Denktash are going against the international community's will and are not acting in line with Turkey's obligations, making special reference to the Turkish sides decision regarding the UN-led peace effort.
The Cyprus question is mentioned in both the Nice Council conclusions and Turkey's accession partnership agreement with the EU, reached earlier this month.
Papapetrou expressed the view that the period until Cyprus concludes its accession negotiations with the EU is crucial as Turkey will have to tackle the dilemmas it faces and must reach some decisions regarding its European course.
Cyprus opened accession talks in 1998 and is considered to lead in the process of adapting to the European laws and regulations.
The spokesman also said that Nicosia would welcome any changes in Turkey due to its EU course as this would have a bearing on the Cyprus peace effort.
 Security Council gives full backing to UN chief's efforts
NICOSIA, 13/12/2000 (CNA/ANA)Security Council members on Monday gave their full backing to efforts by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to find a comprehensive settlement of the protracted Cyprus question and to his intention to persevere with these efforts.
They also called on all concerned to cooperate fully with Kofi Annan towards this goal.
Speaking after a Council briefing by Annan's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, the current president of the Council, Russian Permanent Representative Sergey Lavrov, said "Council members gave their full support to the Secretary General's efforts to achieve a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem."
"They welcomed and supported his intention to continue with the process he initiated in November 1999 and urged all concerned to cooperate fully with him," Lavrov told the press after the briefing.
Alvaro de Soto has chaired five rounds of proximity talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides since last December and expects to resume talks in late January.
Annan has already invited the two sides for a fresh round of talks. Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has said the proximity talks have "served their purpose and have come to an end." He now demands "state to state" talks in a bid to gain recognition of his self-styled regime in Turkish occupied Cyprus.