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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-12-19

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greece presents first euro-zone growth plan
  • [02] Greek foreign minister begins three-day visit in Nepal
  • [03] Burns says Greece and Turkey more strategically important for NATO at present
  • [04] Avramopoulos says new party open to cooperation
  • [05] Athens 2004 Olympic Games projects on course, Simitis says
  • [06] Reppas calls for more effective UN action against Turkish provocations on Cyprus after Pyla
  • [07] Greek foreign ministry delegation visiting Antalya, Turkey
  • [08] Karamanlis turns down proposal by deputy Bakoyianni for meeting of Parliamentary Group
  • [09] Reppas denies that government plans to change electoral law
  • [10] Swedish ambassador discusses Swedish EU presidency goals
  • [11] Skandalidis hosts dinner for Arab ambassadors
  • [12] Government presents tactics for lowering inflation during presentation of Stability & Development Plan sent to EU
  • [13] Sweeping reform of tax system announced during presentation of Greek stability and development plan sent to EU
  • [14] Discussions on 2001 budget begins
  • [15] Equities slump in scant trade
  • [16] ND deputy blasts state over National Bank share buyback
  • [17] Agricultural, EFG join latest round of rate cuts
  • [18] Hoteliers criticize Athens municipality for services provided and the state of the city's infrastructure
  • [19] ATHOC president calls citizens' action more important than the size of countries
  • [20] Tsohatzopoulos observes exercise by Air Force natural disaster rescue unit
  • [21] Conference at Athens University on human rights and their 50-year history
  • [22] Crewmembers of sunken ship off Virginia, including Greeks, all safe
  • [23] Andreas Frangias receives top State Literary Award
  • [24] Floridis says he's determined to go ahead with efforts to reform sports, especially pro soccer, in Greece
  • [25] Government says Pyla tension a result of Turkish isolation
  • [26] British High Commissioner received by Clerides

  • [01] Greece presents first euro-zone growth plan

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    Real incomes in Greece will rise by 2.5-3.0 percent, in tandem with the annual growth in productivity, while the average growth rate for the Greek economy is estimated at 5.3 percent for the next few years, according to the country's first Stability and Development Plan submitted to the European Union, which was unveiled on Monday.

    The Plan, which was submitted Monday simultaneously to the EU's Council of Economy and Finance (ECOFIN) ministers and the European Commission, was presented in Athens by Greece's national economy and finance minister Yiannos Papantoniou at a press conference.

    This is Greece's first-ever Stability and Development Plan to be submitted to the European Union, which is required following the country's acceptance as the 13th member of the EU's euro-zone as of January 1, 2001 in accordance with decisions on the Union's Stability and Development Pact taken at the June 1997 EU summit in Amsterdam.

    Prior to euro-zone acceptance, Greece had been submitting Convergence Programs to the EU on Greece's economic convergence with other EU member-states.

    The program presented by Papantoniou covers the time from now until 2004, and predicts that reform of public-sector finances will continue during that time, with the general budget surplus rising from 0.1 percent at present to 2.0 percent and finally 2.3 percent.

    Public debt will fall from 98.9 percent of GDP in 2001 to 84 percent in 2004, while government spending will be reduced except for welfare and social spending, which will continue to rise.

    Inflation, according to the program's predictions, will stand at roughly 2.3 percent, pushed down from its current levels of above 4.0 percent by falling oil prices.

    [02] Greek foreign minister begins three-day visit in Nepal

    KATMANDU, 19/12/2000 (ANA - D. Konstantakopoulos)

    Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Monday was received by the King of Nepal Biredra Bir Bikrham Sah Dev and met with the Prime Minister of the country Giriyia Prashad Koyrala.

    Papandreou is on a three-day visit to Nepal, the first by a Greek foreign minister to that country, as part of a tour to the subcontinent, since this visit will be followed by tours of Bangladesh and India.

    Papandreou briefed Koyrala on the Greek positions regarding the Cyprus issue and conditions in the Balkans and discussed with him bilateral cooperation in electric energy production, as well as scholarship grants for Nepalese students in Greece.

    Koyrala discussed with Papandreou the need of the subcontinent for stability, being a country surrounded by neighbors with nuclear capabilities.

    [03] Burns says Greece and Turkey more strategically important for NATO at present

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns, in an interview with the Alter TV channel on Sunday, said Greece and Turkey are currently more important strategically for NATO than they were 10-15 years ago.

    Referring to all that had happened during the NATO exercise codenamed "Destined Glory", Burns said the only appropriate thing the US and NATO could do was to take the side of neither Turkey nor Greece, adding that it was better to resolve such matters in the backstage.

    On the question of terrorism, Burns said "we are cooperating excellently" with Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis and that cooperation was "close and productive" with the Greek government on issues concerning the combating of the phenomenon.

    "We are impressed, seeing a new disposition and determination on the part of the Greek government to combat terrorism," he said and added that it was not right that some exaggerated the problem or distorted the government's effort.

    Regarding the procurement of weaponry systems for the Greek armed forces, Burns said the US wants to have "weaponry relations" with its allies, adding that Greece needs modern weapons. He also expressed Washington's satisfaction over the procurement by Greece of the Patriot system two years ago.

    [04] Avramopoulos says new party open to cooperation

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos said late Sunday that the new political party he was setting up would be open to "cooperation" in the event that no party emerged from the next general elections with a self-sufficient majority.

    But any cooperation would be the result of agreements reached during the election campaign period and not of post-elections bargaining, he explained in an interview on private television.

    In a surprise press conference on Thursday, Avramopoulos announced that he was setting up a new political party, something that had been rumored for more than a year. The capital's popular Mayor, who swept the October 1998 municipal elections in Athens with a 57 percent landslide victory in the first round, said he would announce the new party's name and political orientation at a later date.

    In the televised interview, Avramopoulos avoided giving the percentage of the vote his party would be targeting in the next general elections, slated for April 2004.

    Avramopoulos also said that he would not resign from his post of Mayor of Athens, the term of which expires in October 2002, until "my work in the Municipality has been completed", and which would coincide with the announcement of the new party's founding charter.

    Referring to the long-standing rumors of his intentions to form a new party, Avramopoulos said that two years ago "the conditions were not ripe", adding that Greek society demanded renewal as the older parties had completed their bio-historical cycle.

    He said his party was not the product of some "political family or hothouse", but was addressed to cadres who had fought for their tiles, self-made people who had labored to succeed.

    Avramopoulos explained that any MP expressed the desire to join his party, he would demand that the individual in question first resign from that post, since "I will not allow the dissolution of the parties".

    "My goal is synthesis and cooperation," the Mayor said, adding that he was open to discussion with all political personalities, such as former main opposition New Democracy cadres George Souflias, Stephanos Manos (Liberals party leader) and Antonis Samaras (Political Spring part leader), whom he described as "autonomous and respected" political entities, but clarified he had had no such discussions with them.

    He also said that his party was not intended to be a "wedge" between the two mainstream parties.

    Avramopoulos, whose announcement of a new party caused a flurry in political circles, further said that he would "never have bad relations with (ND leader Costas) Karamanlis, (high-profile ND deputy Dora) Bakoyianni and other politicians", noting that politically he was cooperating with them.

    "Politicians are not (rounded up) in pens, but are free political personalities who must look society in the eyes," Avramopoulos said.

    PASOK continues to present Avramopoulos as problem of the center-right: The prospective new party by Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos continued to occupy politicians in both camps on Monday, though there was arguably more activity within main opposition New Democracy over this issue than in ruling PASOK.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas was sparing in his comments during Monday's regular press briefing, saying only that "many complex processes were taking place within the conservative faction at this time" and that the government was "monitoring these closely".

    Asked if the government feared resignations similar to those of two ND Central Committee members in its own ranks, he said that there was no evidence of something similar to what was happening in ND.

    Similarly, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said that the new Avramopoulos party was something that chiefly concerned ND and that the government "is too busy to concern itself with Avramopoulos' party."

    Parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis found more time to devote to the Athens Mayor's political ambitions, speaking during a press conference on Parliamentary events to celebrate the 80th anniversary since the liberation of Thrace.

    Kaklamanis said that Avramopoulos will have been "torn to shreds" by television before the next elections came round, while hinting that his ultimate goal was to lead the right-wing faction.

    He also said he was against the fragmentation of the three historic political powers - which he described at another point as being the "conservative right, progressive center and radical left" - and ventured to say that there would be no significant changes to the political scene.

    Predicting that Avramopoulos' party would have the same fate as those set up by current President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, Political Spring leader Antonis Samaras and Liberals leader Stephanos Manos, he said it was unlikely that the mayor would lure people away from ND.

    He also commented on the Holy Synod's statements on the Avramopoulos party, saying that the Church should not involve itself with politics.

    The mayor's initiative also figured strongly during a Monday meeting by ND section-heads, with high-ranking cadre Dora Bakoyianni pointing out the need for party leader Costas Karamanlis to take measures to "fill" the gaps that Avramopoulos might use and rally all the forces of the center right.

    Former party leader and premier Constantine Mitsotakis, on the other hand, has yet to lay his cards on the table, while his successor Miltiadis Evert shocked with his statements to "Eleftherotypia", where he said that "if it is good for the country I hope that Avramopoulos' party succeeds but for the time being I have seen no such message."

    Evert said that the party positions and proposals finally announced by Avramopoulos would determine whether he gleaned more votes from New Democracy or less from PASOK.

    ND's former leader reiterated that Avramopoulos should resign as Athens Mayor, and said he might be forced to do this by the municipal councilors in the ND camp.

    He urged a moderate handling of Avramopoulos, however, saying that the mistakes made with Antonis Samaras and Political Spring should not be repeated.

    Ruling PASOK secretary discounts threat from new political party: Ruling PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis on Monday said that the only opponent his party has to face were the problems of the country and the people.

    Addressing a prefecture level organization of the party, Skandalidis said that PASOK should "change now so as to win tomorrow", stressing that the ruling party did not have much to fear from the new and yet unnamed party Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos announced.

    He added that the new party would attract voters from the right wing, thus mainly from the main opposition New Democracy and not from PASOK.

    Avramopoulos party gaining support: Two of the three New Democracy party (ND) central committee members sitting on Athens mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos' municipal council were poised Monday to leave the main opposition party and join the mayor's newly-announced new party.

    Athens deputy mayor Evangelia Velentza on Monday submitted her resignation from the ND central committee to join the new party, while deputy mayor George Vardalakis was expected to follow suit later Monday.

    The third ND central committee member on the Athens municipal council, Panos Papaioannou, announced that he did not intend to withdraw from New Democracy.

    Meanwhile, a second mayor from the Peloponnese on Monday announced that he was joining Avramopoulos' party.

    Spyros Malevitis, mayor of the town of Dimitsana, in Arkadia prefecture, said he "supports Dimitris Avramopoulos and the new political party he is setting up", adding that he would run for parliament with the new party in the next general elections.

    Malevitis' announcement comes on the heels of a similar statement by Xylokastro mayor Dimitris Skouras.

    [05] Athens 2004 Olympic Games projects on course, Simitis says

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Monday welcomed the progress made in projects for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, during an inner cabinet meeting with the participation of Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki.

    According to Press and Media Deputy Minister Telemachos Hytiris, the premier also said that the work accomplished over the past few months was satisfactory, although there were problems in the beginning of 2000.

    "We were on yellow (delays) ground, according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and now we are on green (on the fast track)," Hytiris said.

    Simitis also noted, during the cabinet meeting, that 2001 will be the most critical year for the preparations for the Games, a the projects will be seen to progress by everyone, Hytiris said.

    Hytiris also announced that the hospitality village for the journalists that will cover the Olympic Games would be built in four different locations around Athens.

    [06] Reppas calls for more effective UN action against Turkish provocations on Cyprus after Pyla

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Monday that the government had reported the provocative actions by Turkish occupation forces and the Rauf Denktash regime in the village of Pyla to the United Nations.

    Reppas was answering questions on what measures the government had taken in response to the latest incidents.

    According the spokesman, the situation demanded more effective action on the part of the UN. This effectiveness was needed, he explained, to successfully deal with Turkey's provocativeness, which was creating obstacles to the resolution of the Cyprus problem.

    Reppas reiterated that Greece did not want a solution to the Cyprus problem outside the United Nations.

    [07] Greek foreign ministry delegation visiting Antalya, Turkey

    ISTANBUL, 19/12/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    A Greek foreign ministry delegation, headed by European Affairs General Secretary Ilias Plaskovitis, is visiting Antalya, Turkey, part of the cooperation between the foreign ministries of Greece and Turkey to achieve better preparation for Turkey's course towards the European Union.

    This process, already announced during the visit of Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou made to Ankara last January, is aimed at creating a "stronger" atmosphere of confidence between the two ministries.

    Ambassador Anastasios Kriekoukis is also participating in the Greek delegation.

    [08] Karamanlis turns down proposal by deputy Bakoyianni for meeting of Parliamentary Group

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Monday turned down a proposal by party deputy Dora Bakoyianni for an extraordinary meeting of the Parliamentary Group.

    She made the proposal prior to the end of a meeting of ND Department Chiefs who discussed the 2001 budget.

    According to reports, Bakoyianni said "the deputies cannot leave for the prefectures and for us not to have a discussion. The Parliamentary Group should convene on Saturday on the issue of the right-right and the course towards the congress."

    The same reports said that Karamanlis, in responding negatively to the proposal, said "our intentions may be correct but it must not appear that we are operating under pressure."

    The Parliamentary Group and the Central Committee will meet after the holiday season to discuss all issues.

    [09] Reppas denies that government plans to change electoral law

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas denied that the government had plans to change electoral law on Monday.

    Responding to comments made during an interview by ousted former culture minister Theodoros Pangalos, appearing in the "Kyriakatiki Eleftherotypia" newspaper on Sunday, Reppas said that the Cabinet was efficient and worked effectively, as all government organs.

    [10] Swedish ambassador discusses Swedish EU presidency goals

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    Enlargement, employment and environmental concerns will top the agenda of the Swedish presidency of the European Union, as that Scandinavian country undertakes the six-month rotating executive leadership of the Union on Jan.1, 2001.

    "From discussions with Greek authorities we find that Greece shares all these three priorities," Swedish Ambassador to Athens Bjorn Elmer said in a statement to the ANA on Friday.

    Sweden takes over the presidency from France and announced that the first EU special summit will be held on March 23-24 in Stockholm, while the EU summit at the closing of the Swedish presidency will be held in June 15-16 in Goteborg.

    This shall be the first Swedish EU presidency.

    "On our first priority, the enlargement of the Union, the chance exists to achieve significant progress after agreements have now been reached in Nice to prepare the Union for receiving new members," the ambassador said.

    "The historic task of overcoming the old dividing lines in Europe is of immense importance, not least for lasting stability in ... the Baltic Sea. The Swedish ambition is to contribute to a political breakthrough in the negotiations during our Presidency," he added.

    Elmer stressed that the Swedish presidency would also focus on strategies to increase employment through economic reforms, educational programs and social welfare.

    "The first follow-up of Lisbon will be at the Stockholm European Council in March. It is felt that the demographic challenge facing Europe, i.e. essentially low birth rates and aging populations, will be a fruitful angle through which to approach the issues in Stockholm," he said.

    Speaking on environmental policies, Elmer said that cooperation between member-states of the Union should be regulated by environmental considerations.

    "Cooperation in the area of the environment and sustainable development, the aim is to adopt a strategy for the long-term adjustment of EU policies, so as to integrate environmental considerations into all EU areas of cooperation," he stressed.

    He concluded noting that the Swedish presidency will pay special attention to the Unions relations with Russia and it will work toward the further development of its crisis management capability.

    [11] Skandalidis hosts dinner for Arab ambassadors

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    A dinner was given at a downtown Athens hotel on Sunday night in honor of the ambassadors of all Arab countries accredited to Greece, at the initiative of PASOK Central Committee secretary general Costas Skandalidis and with the participation of International Relations secretary Paraskevas Avgerinos.

    According to an announcement by PASOK, the meeting was held for a briefing and an exchange of views on the problems of the Middle East, the role Greece can play and the warming and development of relations between PASOK and the Arab countries.

    Skandalidis assured the Arab ambassadors of the steadfast and determined defense of permanent targets, which PASOK had proclaimed from the beginning and particularly on the issue of the Palestinian state.

    "Our permanent strategy is peace and cooperation in the region and the development of economic, cultural and trade relations with the Arab countries and we have the ambition of being good ambassadors of yours at European bodies," he said.

    [12] Government presents tactics for lowering inflation during presentation of Stability & Development Plan sent to EU

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    Structural reforms and market deregulation would be the linchpin of the government's strategy to reduce inflation, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Monday during a press conference to present the Stability and Development Plan that Greece has submitted to the European Union.

    The Plan was submitted simultaneously to the EU's Council of Economy and Finance (ECOFIN) ministers and the European Commission on Monday.

    This is the first-ever Stability and Development Plan Greece has submitted to the EU, in accordance with its obligations under the EU Stability and Development Pact as the 13th member of the euro-zone, which it officially joins on January 1, 2001.

    Prior to euro-zone acceptance, Greece had been submitting Convergence Programs to the EU on Greece's economic convergence with other EU member-states.

    Papantoniou said the telecommunications and electrical power production sectors would be fully deregulated at the start of 2001. Since the products and services of these sectors are basic factors in production in all other sectors, the minister predicted that lower prices resulting from opening the telecom and electricity markets to competition would have a knock-on effect for the entire economy.

    [13] Sweeping reform of tax system announced during presentation of Greek stability and development plan sent to EU

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    A radical overhaul of the tax system, as well as the system for monitoring spending and revenues, was announced on Monday by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou during a press conference to present the Stability and Development Plan that Greece has submitted to the European Union.

    The Plan was submitted simultaneously to the EU's Council of Economy and Finance (ECOFIN) ministers and the European Commission on Monday.

    This is the first-ever Stability and Development Plan Greece has submitted to the EU, in accordance with its obligations under the EU Stability and Development Pact as the 13th member of the euro-zone, which it officially joins on January 1, 2001.

    Prior to euro-zone acceptance, Greece had been submitting Convergence Programs to the EU on Greece's economic convergence with other EU member-states.

    According to the economy minister, a meeting on reforming the tax system and further reducing taxes for middle incomes from 2003 would be held at the National Economy ministry on Monday. He said the meeting would also discuss how to design an Expenses Program that covered more than one year.

    [14] Discussions on 2001 budget begins

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    The Parliament on Monday began discussion on the 2001 budget, drafted by the government as adequate to stabilize and develop the country's economy, while also redistributing wealth to the financially needier citizens.

    The 2001 budget will be the first of Greece's, since the country entered the euro-zone and the last to be expressed in Greek drachmas.

    Discussions on the budget will conclude on Friday and at that time deputies will be called to approve it, as the government called the approval of the budget a vote of confidence.

    The budget will be voted on an "as is" basis as amendments will not be allowed.

    [15] Equities slump in scant trade

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    Equities on the Athens Stock Exchange finished lower on Monday with sentiment down in low turnover and a lack of buying interest.

    The Athens general index finished 1.52 percent lower at 3,529.69 points, with turnover at 94.06 billion drachmas.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks closed 1.24 percent down, while the FTSE/ASE 40 index for medium capitalization shares fell by 2.26 percent.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: -1.21% Leasing: -2.90% Insurance: -2.21% Investment: +0.04% Construction: -2.88% Industrials: -1.94% Miscellaneous: -2.25 Holding: -2.31

    The parallel market for smaller capitalization stocks ended 1.57 percent down.

    Of 365 shares traded, declines led advances at 295 to 49 with 121 remaining unchanged.

    Main closing share prices (in drachmas): National Bank: 14,285 Alpha Bank: 13,255 Eurobank: 7,450 Lambrakis Press: 5,610 Hellenic Petroleum: 3,700 Commercial Bank: 17,850 Intracom: 8,585 Hellenic Telecom: 5,815 Titan Cement (c): 14,080

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

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 1.25 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 2.27 percent lower.

    Turnover was 18.0 billion drachmas.

    A total of 3,697 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 15.4 billion drachmas.

    On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 1,476 contracts changed hands on turnover of 2.5 billion drachmas.

    Bond prices rise in slim trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Monday finished higher in light trade.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5,474 percent from 5.485 percent in the previous session.

    The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 61 basis points from 62 basis points a day earlier.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totaled 54 billion drachmas from 140 billion drachmas in the session before.

    Buy orders accounted for the bulk of trade.

    Drachma ends flat vs. euro, down vs. dollar: The drachma on Monday ended flat against the euro and lower 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, the same as in the previous session.

    Also at the fix, the dollar was set at 380.630 drachmas from 380.350 drachmas a trading day earlier.

    [16] ND deputy blasts state over National Bank share buyback

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    A main opposition New Democracy party deputy on Monday charged that the Public Securities Company SA (DEKA) last week sold stock it held in National Bank of Greece back to the bank, the country's largest, at a much lower price than it had originally paid, bringing losses of 34.5 billion drachmas to the state.

    State-run National, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, on Friday had bought back 6,461,096 of its own shares at 87.7 billion drachmas, and another 1,615,275 stocks for 85.82 billion drachmas. The former purchase aimed to lower the bank's shareholders' equity by the same amount.

    The previous day, ND deputy Miltiades Evert, a former leader of the party, had called for a judicial enquiry into the transaction.

    Evert said DEKA had since received an average 15,413 drachmas per share for 5,780,000 stocks sold to National last week and an average of 13,574 drachmas each for another 6,461,096 securities sold; against the average 17,347 drachmas it had originally paid, as emerged from records given to parliament by DEKA'a president, Ioannis Kousoulakos.

    The result was 34.5 billion drachmas in losses to state-owned DEKA, which prosecutors should take into account in an enquiry begun earlier into the state portfolio management firm, the deputy said.

    He 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.

    He 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 National Bank of Greece, Hellenic Telecommunications Organization and Hellenic Petroleum before the general election.

    After bulling up the market, DEKA had ceased 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, the deputy alleged.

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

    National's buyback of its 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.

    [17] Agricultural, EFG join latest round of rate cuts

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    State Agricultural Bank of Greece and private EFG Eurobank Ergasias on Monday joined other banks in cutting their loan and deposit rates in the wake of declines in the central bank's short-term intervention rates.

    Effective on Monday, Agricultural's savings deposit rate dropped to 3.85 percent, and its personal loans rate to 11.75 percent.

    Effective on Wednesday, EFG Eurobank Ergasias is to lower its savings deposit rate to 3.75 percent and base business lending rate to 10 percent.

    [18] Hoteliers criticize Athens municipality for services provided and the state of the city's infrastructure

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    The Union of Athens Hoteliers on Monday indicated at a press conference that indigenous weaknesses are dealing a blow to the image of Athens as a tourist destination and was particularly critical of the municipality of Athens.

    The Union's President Spyros Divanis said that despite efforts at modernization made by Athenian hoteliers, who have already implemented investments exceeding 80 billion drachmas over the past three years, inaugurating about 8,000 rooms, they have been unable to upgrade Athens from a tourist point of view, since the environment of hotels and the city's infrastructures in general are not being improved.

    The hoteliers spoke of a poor level of public transport, the lack of signs, bad services at museums, an inadequate level of cleanliness, traffic in a state of anarchy and systematic illegal parking.

    They said the consequences of this situation for Athens hotels is that they are obliged to keep their prices much lower than those charged in European and even cities of developing countries.

    [19] ATHOC president calls citizens' action more important than the size of countries

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    The successful actions of citizens of a country and not the size of its territory determine its importance, Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said on Monday.

    Addressing a one-day conference, organized by the Higher Business Management Society in Athens, Daskalaki said that the organization of Olympic Games was based on a unique business model that in turn was created to handle a multitude of variables and elements.

    She concluded by providing statistics on the Games, regarding numbers of athletes, delegations, volunteer workers and television viewers of the Games.

    [20] Tsohatzopoulos observes exercise by Air Force natural disaster rescue unit

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Monday visited the newly established Air Force unit created for the confrontation of natural disasters such as earthquakes.

    The minister visited the unit, which was set up in November, in the Athens district of Ano Liossia where he observed an exercise for the rescue of people trapped under rubble in the wake of an earthquake.

    The KOMAK unit is comprised of two groups of 10 people and three trained dogs.

    The first phase of their training, which is taking place in Switzerland, Israel and France, will be concluded in mid-January 2001.

    [21] Conference at Athens University on human rights and their 50-year history

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    A conference on human rights and their 50-year history started at the Athens University's Hall of Ceremonies on Monday night, focusing on the European Accord of the Rights of Man.

    The initiative for the event belongs to the Marangopoulos Foundation for the Rights of Man and the Athens University and was carried out with the contribution of distinguished academics in the presence of Justice Minister Mihalis Stathopoulos.

    Stathopoulos referred in his address to the historic significance of the European Accord's text which rendered the power of human rights a universal power which overcame the borders of countries.

    He said that ever since its first steps, Greece had been in the front line regarding respect for human rights with all of its constitutions.

    [22] Crewmembers of sunken ship off Virginia, including Greeks, all safe

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    The 10 Greek seamen and 24 other crewmembers of a Panama-flagged cruise ship that sank off the coast of Virginia in the US were safe and had been rescued by US Coast Guard helicopters, the Greek merchant marine ministry said Monday.

    The 180-metre "Seabreeze I", owned by Miami-based International Shipping Partners Inc., and carrying a 34-member crew but no passengers, radioed a distress call Sunday to the US Coast Guard saying the cruise ship was operating with only one engine and was being tossed by 9-metre high waves and 50-knot winds as it was sailing 220 nautical miles northeast of Cape Henry, Virginia.

    US Coast Guard helicopters dispatched to the ship's assistance succeeded in rescuing all 34 crew members before the cruise ship sank, and flew them to Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, where several of the seamen were treated for minor injuries.

    The ministry identified the Greek crewmembers as captain Simon Papadopoulos, engineers Dimitris Velekos, Nikolaos Nomikos, Demosthenes Karnezis, Dimitrios Valentzas, Panayotis Stambolis, Christos Kitsos and Panayotis Dimoleas, and electricians George Tsimonis and Apostolos Tsimonis.

    It said that the crew also included Greek-American first mate Minos Yiannopoulos.

    US authorities were investigating the cause of the sinking.

    [23] Andreas Frangias receives top State Literary Award

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos awarded the State Literary Awards for 2000 in a ceremony at the Old Parliament Building on Monday night.

    The top literary award was bestowed to Andreas Frangias for all his work.

    [24] Floridis says he's determined to go ahead with efforts to reform sports, especially pro soccer, in Greece

    Athens, 19/12/2000 (ANA)

    In an interview with the newspaper "Ta Nea" published on Monday, Deputy Sports Minister George Floridis said he was determined to continue his efforts to clean up professional soccer in Greece, and that he had the support of Prime Minister Costas Simitis in this effort.

    He said that a bill for greater transparency in sports and "its protection from unsuitable people" would be before Parliament by February at the latest and would also target issues such as football violence, doping, refereeing and others.

    [25] Government says Pyla tension a result of Turkish isolation

    NICOSIA, 19/12/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    The government believes that the recent tension in Pyla, bordering the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, is a result of the isolation Turkish Cypriots and Ankara feel, following their decision to withdraw from the UN peace process if the self-styled regime in occupied Cyprus is not recognized.

    The government has denied Turkish Cypriot reports that a so-called ultimatum was sent to the Republic by the illegal regime in occupied Cyprus to remove any fortifications from the buffer zone.

    "The National Guard has not built any fortifications in the UN controlled buffer zone," Defense Minister Socratis Hasikos said here on Monday after a meeting with President Glafcos Clerides, stressing that the government has protested to the UN fortifications the Turkish forces have constructed in the buffer zone, near Pyla, in the south east of the island. Tension rose in the area after a Greek Cypriot contractor was illegally abducted by the Turkish occupation forces last week while he waited for Turkish Cypriot workers to ferry them to their place of work, as he used to do on a daily basis.

    On Monday, the Turkish occupation forces threatened Greek Cypriot TV crews filming the visit to the area by a Greek Cypriot deputy.

    What we have done, the Defense minister said, is to remove some land minds in the area and the UN has already been informed about this.

    Hasikos said the UN have not at any time protested to the National Guard or the ministry about fortifications that are under construction, as these are outside the buffer zone and in the government controlled area.

    "We are taking all necessary measures, we are not going to stop construction work we are doing outside the buffer zone," the minister stressed.

    In his remarks on the issue, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said Ankara and the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash "are in a weak position and in isolation from the international community because of their decision to leave the negotiating table" if their demands are not met.

    "The only violations that have taken place in the area of Pyla are those the Turkish side has made and the government is taking all necessary steps, in consultation with the UN, to bring the situation back to what it was and put a halt to the construction of fortifications and military posts," Papapetrou told his daily press briefing.

    Replying to questions, he also said press reports about a so-called ultimatum to the government by the occupation regime has no basis.

    Sarah Russell, spokeswoman for the UNFICYP, told CNA "UN headquarters has no record of such an ultimatum", adding that the UN is in consultation with the government on the matter.

    A senior police officer of the British Bases, near Pyla, Nicos Pantehis said he had some unconfirmed information that the Turkish occupation forces near Pergamos, also in the vicinity of the Bases, are strengthening their positions.

    He said he was told by the UN that the Turkish forces had warned TV crews to stop filming or they would open fire against them.

    A spokesman for the Bases told CNA that the authorities are monitoring the situation on a daily basis and act accordingly.

    The Bases have put up road blocks to try avert any further incidents in the area and to strengthen the sense of security in the region.

    [26] British High Commissioner received by Clerides

    NICOSIA, 19/12/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    British High Commissioner in Cyprus Edward Clay was received on Monday by President Glafcos Clerides, with whom he discussed the issue of Panicos Tziakourmas, a Greek Cypriot who was abducted by Turkish troops last week and is now being held illegally in the Turkish occupied areas.

    Speaking after the meeting, Clay noted that the abduction of Tziakourmas creates a legal and a humanitarian situation, and may create a political situation if proven that he was forcibly removed from his car.

    Clay said that during his meeting with President Clerides, "we ran over a number of issues that are current, and in particular we talked about the case of Mr. Tziakourmas".

    Tziakourmas was abducted when he went to Pergamos, in British Bases area, to pick up Turkish Cypriots who work for him.

    The illegal regime in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus claims drugs were found on him.

    The British High Commissioner added that "the Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) administration have been taking certain measures since Mr. Tziakourmas disappeared, first of all to investigate the precise circumstances in which he disappeared and secondly to make clear that the maintenance of law and order in the SBA is sustained and to reassure people who live in and around the area".

    Clay said "those measures have been effective so far, the investigations are not quite concluded, but I believe that the circumstances of Mr. Tziakourmas' disappearance from his car in the eastern SBA are pretty clear".

    He noted that "we are very concerned about that and of course we are concerned about him".

    Replying to questions, Clay said the abduction of Tziakourmas "creates a legal situation and a humanitarian situation", noting that "this man is now not at his business and not at his home and is being held in the north".

    Clay added that "if the evidence shows that he was forcibly removed from his car, whilst in the eastern SBA, then that creates a legal situation and of course it may become a political situation".

    He also said that he met with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on Wednesday, "soon after the incident was reported, when the facts were less clear than they are now and I have raised our concern about what at that time appeared to have happened".

    Clay said he would be going to the Episkopi Base, to talk to the administration of the SBA and "to hear first hand the conclusions of the investigation carried out by the SBA Police".

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied the northern third of the island.

    Britain retains two military bases in Cyprus since granting the island independence from colonial rule in 1960.


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