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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-12-16

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Concern in New Democracy, cooler reaction in PASOK to Mayor's announcement of new party
  • [02] Turkey blocks NATO-EU agreement
  • [03] Ankara says it won't accept UN decision to extend UNFICYP's term
  • [04] Symposium on EU-NATO relations begun in Athens
  • [05] Cabinet focuses on preparations for natural disasters
  • [06] Greek Orthodox Church to unite with Catholic Church in protest of EU Charter
  • [07] Reppas calls on PASOK deputies to vote in favor of budget
  • [08] ND raises question of transparency in party finances in Parliament
  • [09] National Bank of Greece buys back own stock from state body
  • [10] Agricultural Bank of Greece sells stock to staff before IPO
  • [11] Alpha Bank lowers interest rates
  • [12] National Bank drops savings deposit rate to 3.5%
  • [13] Main opposition party blocking FYROM telecom' sale
  • [14] Greek farmers' income in 2000 unchanged
  • [15] Industrialists announce creation of listed firms' trade group
  • [16] Equities nose down, attempt to consolidate
  • [17] Two air-traffic controllers convicted in 1997 Ukrainian airliner crash
  • [18] Unique Russian avant-garde collection goes on display
  • [19] The Athens 2004 Games are an affair of the entire country, Deputy sports minister says
  • [20] Turkey cannot be selective in UN resolutions, Cyprus says

  • [01] Concern in New Democracy, cooler reaction in PASOK to Mayor's announcement of new party

    Athens, 16/12/2000 (ANA)

    The announcement by Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos of his decision to found a new party provoked a blizzard of reactions by politicians and pundits on Friday, though the mayor himself achieved near Sphinx-like inscrutability in his own statements, saying only that it was a sunny day and "on such days I wish our people to live for ever."

    Avramopoulos had announced his long-rumored decision to break ranks with New Democracy and found his own party on Thursday night, on nationwide television.

    Immediately after leaving his house on Friday morning, the mayor headed straight for his office in the Athens Town Hall, from there to gauge reactions and plan his next moves in the coming months.

    New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis, meanwhile, also declined to make any comment when he arrived in Athens this morning after a trip to Cyprus, but headed straight for a meeting at his party headquarters, which focused on how they would deal with Avramopoulos.

    Emerging from that meeting later, ND cadres said that the party would not slam Avramopoulos as a traitor but judge him on purely political criteria, depending on his actions as mayor and toward the party. They made it clear, however, that they would be keeping a close eye on the Athens municipality from now on and would demand Avramopoulos' resignation if he did not perform his duties adequately.

    ND party cadres said they were in constant contact with party members that were local government officials and were considering joining Avramopoulos' new party, pressing them to open their cards before ND's congress, but that were few signs of such imminent "transfers".

    The view that the mayor's decision concerned ND rather than PASOK was expressed by government spokesman Dimitris Reppas during the regular press briefing on Friday, who said that Avramopoulos' party had no program, no positions, no principles and no members in order to be the subject of statements.

    He said Prime Minister Costas Simitis had clearly expressed the government's positions on the Avramopoulos initiative on Thursday. Simitis apparently told Friday's Cabinet meeting that parties are not built on good public relations and a constant presence in the media but must respond to society's needs and the problems of citizens.

    The prime minister also referred to a recent opinion poll revealing widespread support for a prospective party by the Mayor, saying that the government should take this into account and improve its effectiveness as much as possible.

    PASOK General Secretary Costas Skandalidis, meanwhile, after emerging from a meeting with the prime minister regarding the Avramopoulos party, said that this would be a testing time for both Avramopoulos and ND leader Costas Karamanlis.

    "It's one thing to be a mayor and another to be a party leader," he said.

    Regarding ND, he said that the "artificial attachment of opposing and heterogeneous forces has finally reached its limits."

    Parliamentary deputies of both ruling PASOK and New Democracy, meanwhile, called for Avramopoulos to resign from his position as Athens Mayor - though PASOK cadres tried to present the mayor's new party as a problem for the main opposition and the conservatives.

    His former colleagues in ND also charged that he has yet to state what his political positions are.

    Liberals Party leader Stephanos Manos, conversely, welcomed Avramopoulos entry to the political fray, saying that his party believed competition in politics to be beneficial to citizens, even though it might be frowned on by establishment parties. He said the mayor's party would strengthen the forces fighting the Simitis government, which was "laden with socialist weights".

    Athens mayor says he will continue to have good relations with PM Simitis and ND leader Karamanlis: Commenting on reactions against him, Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos said in an interview with a private TV channel on Friday that they leave him "coldly indifferent", adding that he only preoccupies himself with "remarks having a political content".

    Avramopoulos denied being in communication with mayors, prefects and local administration officials and said that until his party is announced he will not be moving in this direction. However, he added that spontaneous reactions of support for his initiative do exist.

    He further said that the time his work will have been completed in the Athens municipality has been fixed and is identified with the announcement of the new political party's founding proclamation. He said that the Athenians would have a mayor until then.

    Avramopoulos said his ambition is to be "useful for the country". He spoke of the "creative reformation of the political scene" and added that he is not seeking confrontation with the political parties but stressed that "where the country has reached, it can go no further."

    However, he noted that at a personal level his relations with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis were and will be good saying that what used to take place so far, with political confrontation also reaching a personal level, should end.

    The Athens mayor announced on Thursday his intention to found a new party.

    [02] Turkey blocks NATO-EU agreement

    BRUSSELS, 16/12/2000 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Turkey on Friday blocked a joint statement of NATO foreign ministers on the future cooperation with the European Union, as it insisted in participating at the decision making process of the EU on defense issues.

    United States President Bill Clinton himself exerted pressures on the Turkish government to change its stance but the Turkish delegation remained unmoved in its lone stance to bar a close co-operation between the Union and NATO, Reuters reported.

    Ankara remained adamant on its objections in allowing assured access to NATO's infrastructures and planning capability of the EU rapid reaction force for military operations directed solely by the EU.

    Turkey insisted in having a say in EU's military affairs, a demand that could not be reconciled with the Helsinki EU summit decisions.

    Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou appeared guarded regarding the possibility for a change in Turkey's stance in the immediate future, while European diplomatic sources concurred.

    The same sources said that in the event of a long-term Turkish refusal, the EU would strengthen its own independent military planning capabilities, in which case Turkey would be further removed from the "European Defense" system.

    The NATO foreign ministers also discussed conditions in the Balkans on Friday, focusing on the escalation of violence in southern Serbia.

    Papandreou said that the NATO member-states were especially worried over this escalation of violence in the troubled region, adding, however, that they unanimously rejected any changes to existing borders, thus being in agreement with UN resolutions.

    Papandreou met with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Al-bright, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson and Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, at the sidelines of the conference.

    He noted that he would soon visit Turkey, on dates to be arranged via diplomatic channels.

    [03] Ankara says it won't accept UN decision to extend UNFICYP's term

    ISTANBUL, 16/12/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Turkey will not accept a recent United Nations decision to extend the term of a peacekeeping force (UNFICYP) on the divided east Mediterranean island until June.

    "The decision was taken without the consent and approval of Turkey and the 'Turkish republic of northern Cyprus', and conflicts with the principle of equality for the two sides on the island," Turkey's foreign ministry in Ankara noted in an announcement. Ankara also called the UN's decision a "dangerous" development, claiming that it contravenes efforts by the UN chief for a solution to the island republic's long-standing problem.

    Only Turkey recognizes the so-called "Turkish republic of northern Cyprus", a breakaway pseudo-state illegally declared (1983) in areas of the island occupied by Turkish forces since an invasion in 1974.

    Meanwhile, the European Union's French presidency issued a statement stressing its regret over this development in Cyprus.

    "France regrets these measures that restrict the mobility and the actions of UNFICYP at the north part of the island and complicate the mission of the UN Secretary-General to achieve a solution (of the Cyprus problem). It (France) wishes for the return to the status quo ante in the case of the Strovilia (village where the Turkish forces recently occupied part of the demilitarized zone)," the press release of the French EU presidency said.

    [04] Symposium on EU-NATO relations begun in Athens

    Athens, 16/12/2000 (ANA)

    Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos inaugurated a two-day symposium on European Defense issues in Athens on Friday organized by the Greek Union for the Atlantic and European Cooperation (GUAEC).

    Former defense minister Ioannis Varvitsiotis and United States Ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns also addressed the symposium, which is the 10th organized by the GUAEC and focused on issues concerning NATO enlargement, European defense in relation to Atlantic solidarity and the situation in southeastern Europe

    Tsohatzopoulos, in his address, said that in the future the inter-national community would probably have to face security problems in the region of Eurasia.

    He added that most problems were expected in the Caucasus area, since the situation in the Balkans appears to be headed for stabilization following latest developments and stressed the need for collective security in the "new era that is dawning".

    Tsohatzopoulos called on the US and Europe not to move competitively against each other but to cooperate on the issue of collective security to consolidate stabilization throughout Eurasia.

    He also reiterated that the European Union's defense and security policy couldnt be completed in the absence of Russia and Ukraine.

    Varvitsiotis referred to Greece's relations with bordering countries and to the situation in the Balkans, saying that the region's borders are showing characteristics of quicksand over the past decade.

    He attributed responsibility for this situation to the political leaderships of countries, which wish to serve personal or foreign interests, which contrast with the true interests of peoples, and to international organizations that sometimes strengthen instability.

    Burns supported cooperation between the EU and NATO on the issue of collective security and also called for an increase in military expenditures by EU member-states. He reiterated that among his duties is to promote US interests in the armaments sector.

    Burns expressed satisfaction over the completion of the process of the presidential elections in the US, but did not refer to the targets of the future government.

    [05] Cabinet focuses on preparations for natural disasters

    Athens, 16/12/2000 (ANA)

    The Cabinet on Friday focused on the issue of dealing with natural disasters in the country.

    According to Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou, the government is determined to redesign contingency plans and create a national coordinating center as well as 13 regional centers.

    On his part, Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis said the ministry plans to purchase more firefighting airplanes, expand dirt roads in forested areas and build more emergency water tanks and fire breaks in the countryside.

    [06] Greek Orthodox Church to unite with Catholic Church in protest of EU Charter

    Athens, 16/12/2000 (ANA)

    The Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece will cooperate with the Catholic Church in protesting the omission of any mention of Christianity in the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights, Metropolitan of Sparta Efstathios said on Friday.

    Following a meeting of the Holy Synod, the Church's highest collective decision making body, Efstathios accused the French presidency of the Union and personally French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin of "attempting to lend Europe a godless image, barren of religion".

    Efstathios also said that the Greek Church would brief Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and other Christian leaders of Europe on its initiative in the EU.

    [07] Reppas calls on PASOK deputies to vote in favor of budget

    Athens, 16/12/2000 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas on Friday called on ruling PASOK deputies to vote in favor of the budget, saying that it amounted to a vote of confidence to the government and its policies.

    Discussions on the budget in Parliament are scheduled to begin on Monday and conclude on Friday.

    Reppas also noted that with the 2001 budget the government aims to respond to its pre-election commitments to the Greek citizens.

    [08] ND raises question of transparency in party finances in Parliament

    Athens, 16/12/2000 (ANA)

    The issue of transparency in political party finances but also the funds that supported the creation of new parties was raised in Parliament during the Prime Minister's Question Time on Friday by main opposition New Democracy representative Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

    According to Pavlopoulos, the huge sums spent by the main parties for their pre-election campaigns had created the impression of a lack of transparency in their finances and he asked that the parties be protected against the suspicions raised against them by monitoring mechanisms that will also answer questions on the way new parties are created and the way they will operate in the future.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis agreed that existing legislation controlling the transparency of party finances was inadequate, saying that "it did not ensure transparency and those being monitored cannot be the monitors."

    He noted, however, that the government had invited the other parties to dialogue on this issue and that Pavlopoulos' proposals pre-empted this.

    He also ruled out ND's proposal to buy free television airtime for parties, saying that the costs would be prohibitive and risked arousing public censure.

    [09] National Bank of Greece buys back own stock from state body

    Athens, 16/12/2000 (ANA)

    State-run National Bank of Greece, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, on Friday bought back a chunk of its own stock from the Public Securities Company SA (DEKA).

    A block trade of 6,461,096 shares was affected at 87.7 billion drachmas and another for 1,615,275 shares at 85.82 billion drachmas. The former purchase aimed to lower the bank's shareholders' equity by the same amount.

    On Thursday, a main opposition New Democracy deputy called for a judicial enquiry into the purchase that that had been agreed the previous day.

    The deputy and former ND leader, Miltiades Evert, alleged that the stock sale to National was an attempt to cover up share manipulation that he alleged was ordered by the government before national elections on April 9, 2000.

    Evert had filed a complaint earlier this year with a Supreme Court prosecutor, asking for an inquiry into allegations of malpractice by DEKA.

    Evert claimed that instead of pursuing its goals of public portfolio management and repayment of the public debt through privatization proceeds, DEKA had bought massive amounts of shares in state-owned firms quoted on the Athens bourse, including Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, Hellenic Petroleum and National Bank of Greece before national elections on April 9.

    After bulling up the market, DEKA had ceased the bulk buying after a fresh election victory by the incumbent ruling PASOK party, creating an artificial slide in the market in the wake of an artificial rally, Evert alleged.

    He estimated that DEKA'S suspected intervention cost DEKA and the public around 700 billion drachmas.

    National's decision to purchase the stock was an attempt to bail out DEKA, which now found itself unable to meet its commitment of contributing 720 billion drachmas to repayment of the public debt, as foreseen in the budget for 2000, Evert claimed.

    The purchase would hurt National Bank's stockholders, he added.

    [10] Agricultural Bank of Greece sells stock to staff before IPO

    Athens, 16/12/2000 (ANA)

    Agricultural Bank of Greece successfully sold two million shares in a private placement to staff ahead of an initial public offer (IPO) for entry into the Athens bourse's main market, bank officials said on Friday.

    The IPO will be held on December 18-21 with the issue of 13,496,500 common bearer shares, of which 11,496,500 are for sale to the public. The remaining 2,000,000 were sold to staff.

    Agricultural Bank of Greece ranks amongst Europe's 100 largest banking groups and has 10 financial services subsidiaries. It is the country's second largest bank in terms of branch network.

    Agricultural's main underwriters in the share sale are Commercial Bank of Greece and Bank of Piraeus. The advisers are Alpha Finance and National Investment Bank for Industrial Development.

    The bank posted profits of 113 billion drachmas in 1999 on turnover of 712 billion drachmas. Shareholders' equity totals 660 billion drachmas from 212 billion drachmas three years ago. Total assets are 5.164 trillion drachmas.

    Agricultural Bank intends to use proceeds from the IPO to help complete its investment plan.

    Among activities in the pipeline are the acquisition of major shareholdings in two companies and a research institute that the agriculture ministry has set up to develop the farm economy.

    The units, announced by Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis, are named Agrotourism SA, Agroexports SA and the Center for Research and Planning in the Agricultural Economy.

    The bank is also seeking a strategic investor to acquire a major stake in its share capital and gradually take over management, its governor, Petros Lambrou, has said.

    Morgan Stanley, the international investment house, will undertake the search for an ally.

    Lambrou said that Agricultural planned to set up the first purely shipping bank in Greece, holding a 44 percent stake. Nova Scotia Bank will take 4.0 percent and key ship owners the majority holding.

    Agricultural will also reinforce its involvement in sectors including energy, telecom, tourism and real estate management.

    [11] Alpha Bank lowers interest rates

    Athens, 16/12/2000 (ANA)

    Alpha Bank, the country's second largest commercial bank and a blue chip on the Athens bourse, is to lower its deposit and loan rates by up to 75 basis points, effective on Monday.

    Alpha is the latest bank to cut its rates following a reduction of 75 basis points in the central bank's short-term intervention rates.

    Its savings deposit rate will fall to 3.0 percent and minimum lending rate for operating capital to 9.0 percent, Alpha said in a statement on Friday.

    The bank's floating rate on housing loans is to drop to 7.75 percent, the statement said.

    [12] National Bank drops savings deposit rate to 3.5%

    Athens, 16/12/2000 (ANA)

    National Bank of Greece, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, will lower its savings deposit rate by 50 basis points to 3.5 percent.

    The interest rate on current accounts will fall to 2 percent, and the floating rate on housing loans to 7.5 percent, National said in a statement on Friday.

    The bank joined the latest round of rate cuts triggered by a decline in the central bank's short-term intervention rates.

    [13] Main opposition party blocking FYROM telecom' sale

    SKOPJE, 16/12/2000 (ANA - M. Vihou)

    The sale of FYROM's state telecom utility was apparently blocked on Friday, as the country's main opposition party announced that it was petitioning FYROM's highest court to prevent the same-day opening of bids.

    The Union of Social Democrats said it wanted to stop procedures to privatize the landlocked Balkan country's telecom until the ownership status of the utility is settled. Sealed bids were supposed to be opened at 4 p.m. local time by an evaluation committee comprised of foreign consultants, utility executives and high-ranking officials of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) transport and communications ministry.

    Dec. 22 had been given as the date when the Skopje government was to announce its selection.

    Among the main contenders are Greece's state-run Hellenic Telecom Organization (OTE) and Hungary's Matab.

    OTE's bid comes on the heels of its failed attempt over the past year -- in cooperation with the Netherlands' KPN -- to acquire a majority stake in Bulgaria's telecom company, BTC.

    Deutsche Telecom (DT), meanwhile, holds a 61-percent share of Matab, while high-profile international financier George Soros and Greek insurance tycoon Dimitris Kontominas also own a stake of the Hungarian firm -- the front-runner in the tender, according to local press reports.

    [14] Greek farmers' income in 2000 unchanged

    BRUSSELS, 16/12/2000 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    Greek farmers' income remained at the same level this year with 1999's figures, according to an announcement by Eurostat on Friday.

    Conversely, per capita income for farmers throughout the 15-member bloc increased by 1.3 percent, whereas for the "11" member-states comprising the "euro-zone" the increase was recorded at 1.5 percent.

    In an announcement, the European Union's statistical service said these hikes are mostly due to a decrease (-2.7%) in the Union's farm-related workforce.

    Ten EU states recorded an increase in farmers' income, with Denmark (24.1 percent), Finland (22) and Belgium (12.2) posting the highest marks. On the other hand, Britain (-10.8 percent), Portugal (-7.5), Austria (-4.8) and Italy (-4.3).

    In terms of Greece's agriculture sector, Eurostat notes that farm production dropped in real terms by 0.5 percent, whereas the country's farm labor force was cut by 2 percent.

    [15] Industrialists announce creation of listed firms' trade group

    Athens, 16/12/2000 (ANA)

    The Federation of Greek Industry on Friday formally announced the creation of a new trade group comprising firms listed on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Board members of the trade group include Dimitris Daskalopoulos of Delta Holding and Dimitris Kondominas of Interamerican.

    The group's first meeting will be held at the Grande Bretagne Hotel in Athens on December 18.

    [16] Equities nose down, attempt to consolidate

    Athens, 16/12/2000 (ANA)

    Equities on the Athens Stock Exchange finished slightly lower on Friday in an attempt to consolidate in the wake of a sharp rise in the previous session fuelled by a return to blue-chip buying after four straight declines.

    The Athens general index finished 0.13 percent lower at 3,584.08 points, with turnover at 115.72 billion drachmas.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks closed 0.17 percent down, while the FTSE/ASE 40 index for medium capitalization shares fell by 0.19 percent.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: +0.75% Leasing: -0.19% Insurance: -0.07% Investment: +0.06% Construction: -1.09% Industrials: -0.57% Miscellaneous: +0.12 Holding: +0.65

    The parallel market for smaller capitalization stocks ended 0.69 percent down.

    Of 354 shares traded, declines led advances at 179 to 154 with 21 remaining unchanged.

    The most heavily traded stocks were National Bank of Greece, Piraeus Leasing and Paperback Tsoukaridis.

    Main closing share prices in drachmas):National Bank: 14,440 Alpha Bank: 13,400 Eurobank: 7,750 Lambrakis Press: 5,700 Hellenic Petroleum: 3,610 Commercial Bank: 18,070 Intracom: 8,805 Hellenic Telecom: 5,860 Titan Cement (c): 14,360

    Technical problems delay trading on Athens bourse: Trading on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) opened Friday half an hour after noon after technical problems delayed the commencement of the trading session.

    Bourse sources cited "extensive technical problems" to the bourse's electronic system as delaying the opening of the main trading session to 12:30, while the pre-trading session opened at 12:10.

    Bourse authorities said the trading session would be concluded at 3:15 p.m.

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

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 0.17 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 0.19 percent lower.

    Turnover was 25.0 billion drachmas.

    A total of 5,150 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 21.6 billion drachmas.

    On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 1,940 contracts changed hands on turnover of 3.3 billion drachmas.

    Bond prices edge up in moderate trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Friday finished higher in moderate trade.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.485 percent from 5.515 percent in the previous session.

    The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 62 basis points from 60 basis points a day earlier.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totaled 140 billion drachmas from 238 billion drachmas in the session before.

    Buy orders accounted for around 81 billion drachmas of trade.

    Drachma down vs. euro, up vs. dollar: The drachma on Friday ended lower against the euro and higher versus the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.

    At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 340.750 drachmas from 340.740 drachmas in the previous session.

    Also at the fix, the dollar was set at 380.350 drachmas from 385.490 drachmas a trading day earlier.

    [17] Two air-traffic controllers convicted in 1997 Ukrainian airliner crash

    Athens, 16/12/2000 (ANA)

    Two air-traffic controllers at Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport were convicted Friday of having caused the 1997 crash of a Ukrainian commercial airliner that killed 73 people.

    A Thessaloniki court on Friday handed down sentences of five years each to air-traffic controllers Adamantios Fragiadoulis and Ioannis Yiannakopoulos, who were on duty at the airport's Control Tower on the night of December 17, 1997, when a Yakovlev airliner belonging to the Ukraine-based airline Aero-sweet crashed into the Pieria mountain range after going off course during its descent towards Macedonia Airport.

    The five-year sentence imposed on the two air-traffic controllers is the maximum foreseen by Greek law for multiple counts of homicide due to negligence and disrupting flight safety.

    According to the charge sheet, the two air-traffic controllers committed several mistakes and omissions while trying to guide the Yakovlev's pilot during the landing of the plane.

    The two men appealed the decision and were released pending the appeals court trial.

    Still pending are class action suits in civil courts against Aerosweet and the Greek State by relatives of the Yakovlev victims.

    [18] Unique Russian avant-garde collection goes on display

    Athens, 16/12/2000 (ANA)

    Part of the prolific Kostakis collection of priceless Russian avant-garde artwork goes on display in Thessaloniki on Saturday, almost seven months since a 14 billion-drachma purchase deal was concluded.

    The exhibition of 100 selected artworks will be inaugurated by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, continuing until April 30 at the Lazariston Monastery in the fortress district of Thessaloniki.

    Additionally, two catalogues on the exhibition - in English and in Greek - will be issued.

    The Greek state formally acquired the collection with the signing of an agreement last April between the Thessaloniki State Museum of Modern Art and representatives of the late collector's granddaughter, Aliki Kostaki.

    The Kostakis collection of 1,275 Russian avant-garde artworks includes works by Malevic, founder of the 'supremacist' school, Tatlin the founder of 'constructivism', Papova, Rozanova and Matiushin. The collection is comprised mainly of paintings, although sketches, engraved manuscripts and documents are included.

    Art aficionado Georgios Kostakis, a Muscovite of Greek descent, built up his collection between 1930 and 1960 by exchanging works by western artists for paintings dating from the period of 1910-1930 by then unknown Russian avant-garde artists. In 1977 he donated about 150 pieces to the Tretiakov Art Gallery in Moscow, while he kept the bulk of the art, initially in a bank vault in Cologne.

    [19] The Athens 2004 Games are an affair of the entire country, Deputy sports minister says

    Athens, 16/12/2000 (ANA)

    Deputy Sports Minister George Floridis said in Kavala, northern Greece, on Friday that the Athens 2004 Olympic Games are not an affair of Athens or Attica but of the entire country.

    He said that after the "end of the games one would be able say that rural Greece acquired infrastructures and had the ability to participate in the preparation of the Olympic Games through many activities".

    Floridis, who met local administration representatives and local sports officials, referred to the program "Greece 2004" which concerns the creation of sports infrastructure projects in the rural Greece, as well as to the development of activities until the next Olympic Games.

    The program is being funded by the approved Olympic budget with 363 billion drachmas, while the country's municipalities are the agencies involved in its implementation.

    Floridis said the Kavala prefecture has the capabilities of becoming an "Olympic prefecture" and added that "we shall create certain installations for the Olympiad in Kavala by 2002."

    He went on to say that the region, with its existing hotel infrastructure and the wider tourist interest it presents, is capable of attracting teams from various countries for preparation for the Olympiad.

    "Therefore, it is essential that all the advantages and possibilities will be utilized, for example, which are provided by the ancient theatre of Philippi on issues concerning the Cultural Olympiad," he said.

    [20] Turkey cannot be selective in UN resolutions, Cyprus says

    NICOSIA, 16/12/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou on Friday underlined that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side cannot be selective in the UN resolutions on Cyprus they agree with and said they should align themselves with the will of the international community and international law and order.

    Invited to comment on the negative reaction in both Ankara and the illegal regime in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus regarding

    Security Council resolution 1331, adopted three days ago to renew the mandate of the UN Peace-Keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), Papapetrou also said "Turkish diplomacy should cooperate for a settlement of the Cyprus issue."

    "Turkey does not have the choice to back only the UN resolutions that are to its benefit," the spokesman said, adding that "the UN Security Council has a particular political clout that no-one, including Turkey, can ignore."

    He said the Turkish side is rejecting this resolution as it does with most Security Council resolutions, whether they refer to UNFICYP or to the Cyprus question.

    "Instead of the Turkish diplomacy insisting on intransigent positions which are contrary to international law, it should align its policy with international law and order and cooperate for a settlement in Cyprus," Papapetrou said.

    The spokesman repeated that both the government and the National Council, top advisory body to the president on the Cyprus issue, are backing the effort to reach a settlement in Cyprus based on the parameters set out in UN resolutions.

    He said a statement made by State Department spokesman Richard Boucher calling on the Turkish side to align itself with resolution 1331, proves that it is bringing itself up against international public opinion.

    The Turkish foreign ministry and the illegal "foreign ministry" in the areas of Cyprus occupied by Turkey since its troops invaded the island in 1974 issued announcements rejecting the UN resolution and have described it as a mistake.

    The resolution urges the Turkish Cypriot side and the Turkish occupation forces in Cyprus to rescind the restrictions imposed since last June on the operations of UNFICYP in the occupied areas of the island and to restore the military status quo at the hamlet of Strovilia, near the occupied town of Famagusta, where the Turkish occupation forces illegally put up a checkpoint.

    The Security Council also "reaffirms all its relevant resolutions on Cyprus, and in particular resolution 1251 of 1999," which sets out the parameters for a settlement, based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation, with one sovereignty and one international identity.

    Noting that "the government of Cyprus has agreed that in view of the prevailing conditions in the island it is necessary to keep UNFICYP" in Cyprus, the Security Council decided to extend the Force's mandate for a further six-month period, ending June 15, 2001.

    UNFICYP is one of the longest serving UN peacekeeping forces. It first arrived in Cyprus in March 1964.

    UN-led proximity talks to settle the Cyprus problem opened in December last year and a sixth round is scheduled to take place late January.

    The Cyprus government has announced it will participate in the talks, but the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has not yet made his position clear.

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