|Sunday, 8 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-12-21
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Simitis briefs President on domestic, foreign affairs
Athens, 21/12/2000 (ANA)Greece was following the correct policy with Turkey, because the partnership relationship was the means for the existence of a just state in the Balkan neighbor, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos, the premier described as "brutal" the attitude of the Turkish security forces against "people who do not have the ability to defend themselves elementarily".
Human rights were not being applied in Turkey, Simitis said, adding that Greece wanted those rights applied in all countries wishing to join the European Union.
Simitis also said he briefed the President on domestic and foreign developments.
Turning to the Greek economy, Simitis said the country was "turning a page" on January 1, 2001 when it would formally enter the euro zone.
He said that after Greece's accession to the European Union's economic and monetary union (EMU) in June, there had been substantial stability, something which did not occur with other countries and proved that the Greek economy was stable.
 PM forecasts ruling PASOK's victory in next election
Athens, 21/12/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Wednesday said that ruling PASOK would win the next election, basing his assessment on the positive outlook of the Greek economy.
During a regular meeting with a delegation of PASOK Parliament deputies, Simitis said that the increasingly positive trend of the Greek economy would guarantee that PASOK would remain in power.
He also said that the government needs to intensify its efforts and work hard to achieve even better results, adding that the aim of the modernizing efforts was not to maintain the current economic, social and political environment, but to promote a series of changes on all those sectors.
 PASOK Executive Bureau discusses current political issues
Athens, 21/12/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister and PASOK leader Costas Simitis chaired a meeting of his party's Executive Bureau on Wednesday, focusing on current political issues.
In a statement made during a recess, Central Committee Secretary General Costas Skandalidis said Simitis referred in his address to two priorities, which are of great importance both for the party and the government.
The first priority concerns structural changes in the economy, which will be promoted with determination, while the second regards PASOK's contact with society.
The prime minister, whose slogan is "an exit to society", called on cadres to contribute in this direction since a relevant process has been scheduled and which will be promoted through the organization of regional conferences. Simitis will chair a special party meeting on this issue on Thursday.
Commenting on PASOK's position towards Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, who recently announced his intention to create a political party, Skandalidis said that according to the discussion made at the Executive Bureau the stance observed by the ruling party is the appropriate one and the problem is an internal one for the conservative party, while PASOK should preoccupy itself creatively with the task it has before it.
 Papandreou expresses 'concern' over incidents in Turkey's jails during official visit to Bangladesh
DHAKA, 21/12/2000 (ANA - D. Konstantakopoulos)Foreign Minister George Papandreou, currently on a two-day official visit to Bangladesh, expressed "sorrow and concern" over the violence in Turkey's jails on Wednesday, when asked to comment on the murder of hunger-striking prisoners by Turkish security forces.
Papandreou said that "all of Europe is watching the developments with interest and concern, especially following the signature of the partnership agreement, which is shown once again to be a compass of criteria for EU-Turkey relations."
Greece, he added, did not only possess democratic sensitivities but had also fought battles for democracy.
Finally, he said that he would soon be meeting his Swedish counterpart to discuss the Swedish EU presidency's views on implementing the partnership agreement on human rights issues.
The Greek foreign minister is currently on a tour of south Asian countries, and arrived in Bangladesh from Nepal on Tuesday.
Government very concerned over bloody security operations in Turkey's jails, gov't spokesman says: Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas described the bloodbath in Turkey's jails during an operation by Turkish security forces as a "stain on civilization" on Wednesday, who noted that Turkey was under close scrutiny from the European Union.
"The inhuman violence used and the autocratic conditions under which the operation was carried out are a stain on civilization," Reppas said. He added that observations by officials were not enough and that the EU had to take on its responsibilities.
The spokesman said that Parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis would be contacting other national parliaments and international organizations over the situation in Turkey, and that the Greek government was extremely interested in events in neighboring Turkey and showed this interest in a pointed way.
Reppas also hailed a resolution signed by 58 PASOK deputies that condemned the flagrant violation of human rights in Turkey, saying it was "an example of human and democratic sensitivity."
He made no specific reference to PASOK deputy and ousted former minister Theodoros Pangalos, who began the initiative in this context.
Asked if there was any difference between the resolution drafted by Pangalos and a "guaranteed minimum income" bill tabled in Parliament by a former aide to Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Theodoros Tsoukatos, Reppas said that the first concerned events in a neighboring country and the second a domestic issue. The proposed bill presented by Tsoukatos, he said, was not based on a report by the State General Accounts Department and therefore the government could not adopt it.
Finally, Reppas parried accusations of negligence and slackness in the foreign ministry made by Theodoros Pangalos, who had made statements criticizing the policies being followed by Foreign Minister George Papandreou in Greek-Turkish relations.
Greek political parties united in their condemnation of brutality by Turkish security forces in jail operation: Political parties and other bodies in Greece were united in their condemnation of a brutal operation by Turkish security forces to end hunger strikes in Turkey's jails on Wednesday, while 60 deputies submitted a resolution to Parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis that expressed their concern and anguish over events in the neighboring country.
Reports from Turkey, meanwhile, said that a new operation against two Istanbul jails had been launched this morning, which aimed to fully stamp out a hunger strike by political prisoners. The hunger strikers apparently continued to show resistance, despite the fact that 18 of their fellows had died in Tuesday's bloody operations in 20 of the country's jails. No reports of new victims from the latest attack had yet been released.
The resolution submitted to the Greek Parliament - drafted by PASOK MP Theodoros Pangalos, an ousted former minister - asks the Parliament speaker to report the methods of the "Turkish regime" to the European Parliament and the Council of Europe and asks Foreign Minister George Papandreou to raise the issue in international organizations.
Statements condemning the violence of Turkish security forces were also made by the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI), the right-wing Liberals Party, the General Confederation of Greek Workers union and the ADEDY civil servants' union (two of the largest in Greece) and others.
 Athens airport and flights totally safe and secure, gov't spokesman says
Athens, 21/12/2000 (ANA)The Athens airport at Hellinikon and the Olympic Airways flights are totally safe, government spokesman said on Wednesday, responding to press reports that the United States raised an issue to the contrary.
He said that US and Greek authorities meet and discuss relevant to security issues, adding that the airport operated securely for many years now.
Reppas also noted that the ministry of transport was drafting a bill to further improve security, with measures that include the establishment of an Inspectorate for the safety of flights.
US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns visited Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoris Niotis on Wednesday who, according to reports, discussed with the US diplomat information publicized on the state of security at Greek airports.
 Tsohatzopoulos holds talks with Bosnian officials in Sarajevo
Athens, 21/12/2000 (ANA)National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Wednesday held talks with officials of the republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo, who expressed the country's desire to rejoin international organizations and the Multinational Brigade of Southeastern Europe.
Tsohatzopoulos had successive meetings with the federal government's Defense Minister Miroslav Pirlic, Alternate Minister Sakib Mahmoulin, Foreign Minister Yiabranko Pirlic, the members of the federation's three-member presidency and its President Zivko Radisic.
He also met with the commanding officer of SFOR Lieutenant General Michael Dodson.
During his meeting with the Serb Republic's Defense Minister Manolio Milovanovic, Tsohatzopoulos expressed the need for new initiatives to be undertaken by the international community to facilitate a speedup in the procedures of both the restructuring and completion of democratic institutions in Bosnia-Herzegovina and its linkage with European prospects.
Milovanovic expressed the need for the development of cooperation between the defense ministers of southeastern Europe on the question of their countries' defense systems since, as he assessed, stability in the region depends on the defense systems of the countries in the region.
 Greece and Turkey discuss cooperation in European matters
Athens, 21/12/2000 (ANA)A Greek foreign ministry delegation, headed by European Affairs General Secretary Ilias Plaskovitis, visited Antalya, Turkey, for the fifth meeting of delegations of the two 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 better climate of confidence between the two ministries.
The two delegations decided to organize regarding training of Turkish civil servants in economic, customs and banking issues, as well as for the Turkish judiciary on the application of European law by Turkish courts.
The next meeting will take place in April.
 Former premier Mitsotakis sends telegram congratulating new US president on his election
Athens, 21/12/2000 (ANA)Honorary New Democracy President Constantine Mitsotakis, who has served as Greek prime minister in 1990-1993, said he had sent a telegram to newly elected US President George Bush on Wednesday.
As well as congratulating Bush on his election as the 43rd US president, Mitsotakis also expressed hope that he would turn his attention to solving the Cyprus problem, saying that the issue had also been tackled jointly by himself and Bush's father during the latter's presidency.
"I hope you will continue until it bears fruit the policy that your father and I had begun to bring the Cyprus tragedy to an end. An end which - as both the president and I believed - is a crucial condition for good and friendly Greek-Turkish relations," he said.
The message ends by urging Bush to help resolve tense situations in difficulties in the Balkans and the Middle East.
The former Greek premier and his wife Marika Mitsotaki have also sent a private telegram congratulating President George Bush senior and his wife Barbara on the election of their son to the highest office in the US.
 Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos to visit Turkish President in Ankara
ISTANBUL, 21/12/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos was to pay an official visit to Turkish President Ahmed Nezdet Sezer on Wednesday afternoon, at the presidential residence in Ankara.
Before the visit, the Patriarch will also pay a visit to the US Embassy in Ankara, returning a visit made to Fanar by the US ambassador on December 10.
 Labor minister refers to insurance issue during Parliamentary debate on new state budget
Athens, 21/12/2000 (ANA)Labor Minister Tassos Giannitsis on Wednesday referred to the insurance issue in an address to Parliament during the ongoing debate on the country's state budget for 2001, confirming that insured people fulfilling preconditions for pensioning until the new law is ratified will be able to use their pensioning rights as they stand.
Replying to criticism on the cost of insurance reform, he said the cost of the absence of insurance reform also exists, the cost of "intensely problematic insurance funds being found after a few years."
Giannitsis also confirmed that essential preparations aimed at securing viability and long-term financial adequacy, as well as the rationalization and improvement of the insurance system's effectiveness have been scheduled.
He reiterated that the entire process is underway and the delivery of a study by an international firm will take place at the end of January, while a dialogue will follow with parties and social bodies.
Giannitsis further said that the government has no reason to desire the premature withdrawal of working people and will make no surprise moves.
 Shares nose down in scant trade
Athens, 21/12/2000 (ANA)Equities on the Athens Stock Exchange finished lower on Wednesday with selective buying in small and medium capitalization stocks but selling in the shares of larger firms.
The Athens general index finished 0.24 percent lower at 3,454.28 points, with turnover at 72.75 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks closed 0.51 percent down, while the FTSE/ASE 40 index for medium capitalization shares rose by 0.24 percent.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: -0.79% Leasing: -0.22% Insurance: -1.93% Investment: -0.16% Construction: +1.97% Industrials: +0.87% Miscellaneous: -0.42% Holding: +1.18%
The parallel market for smaller capitalization stocks ended 0.26 percent up.
Of 358 shares traded, advances led declines at 186 to 143 with 29 remaining unchanged.
The most heavily traded stocks were Piraeus Leasing, Hellenic Stock Exchanges and Bank of Piraeus.
Main closing share prices (in drachmas):National Bank: 13,725 Alpha Bank: 12,790 Eurobank: 7,210 Lambrakis Press: 5,335 Hellenic Petroleum: 3,620 Commercial Bank: 17,380 Intracom: 8,460 Hellenic Telecoms: 5,735 Titan Cement (c): 13,810
Equity futures drop, tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Wednesday, in line with the bourse indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 0.51 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 0.24 percent higher.
Turnover was 23.1 billion drachmas.
A total of 5,061 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 20.1 billion drachmas.
On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 1,829 contracts changed hands on turnover of 2.9 billion drachmas.
Bond prices drop in sell-dominated trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Wednesday finished lower in moderate to heavy trade.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.446 percent from 5.482 percent in the previous session.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 61 basis points, the same as the two previous days.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totaled 159.8 billion drachmas from 215 billion drachmas in the session before.
Sell orders accounted for the bulk of trade.
Drachma up vs. euro, dollar: The drachma on Wednesday rose 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 340.750 drachmas in the two previous sessions.
Also at the fix, the dollar was set at 378.840 drachmas from 383.500 drachmas a trading day earlier.
 Greek economy deputy minister meets with regional policy Commissioner
Athens, 21/12/2000 (ANA)National Economy Deputy Minister Christos Pahtas met with European Union commissioner for regional policy Michel Barnier in Brussels and discussed the details for the implementation of the third community support framework fund, in Greece.
According to the Greek minister, who arrived in Athens on Wednesday, the two men discussed the new methods of handling the implementation of the support framework fund and the necessary preparations for the approval of projects by the European commission.
 Prices set to drop for third consecutive week, following international trends
Athens, 21/12/2000 (ANA)Indicative fuel prices are set to decrease substantially for the third consecutive week on Thursday, due to a drop in international fuel prices.
According to indicative retail prices released by the Development Ministry and Hellenic Petroleum SA on Wednesday, prices of super and unleaded petrol will drop by 3 drachmas per liter; diesel by 7 drachmas per liter; and heating oil by 10 drachmas per liter.
Indicative prices in the prefectures of Attica and Thessaloniki will be 234.4 drachmas per liter for super petrol; 224.7 drachmas per liter for unleaded; 222.3 drachmas per liter for diesel; and 119.3 drachmas per liter for heating oil.
 Manolo Romero appointed sole sponsor for radio andTV coverage of the Athens 2004 Olympiad
Athens, 21/12/2000 (ANA)Manolo Romero and the IBS joint venture will be the sole sponsor for the radio and TV coverage of the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, following a decision taken on Wednesday by the 17-member board of the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee.
The next step to complete the agreement on the Olympiad's radio and TV coverage, an issue that had been delayed according to International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials, will be the ratification of the text by the IOC as well in the next few days.
Meanwhile, the proclamation for the hiring of two technical advisers who will monitor work being carried out for the Olympic projects will be publicized on Thursday. The first technical adviser will monitor the Olympic projects and the second communications projects.
In another development, Athens University sociology professor Constantine Tsoukalas has assumed the duties of special adviser on volunteer issues as of Wednesday.
 Exports jump in first-half 2000
Athens, 21/12/2000 (ANA)Greek exports rose sharply in the first half of 2000 to total 5.87 billion euros, up 36 percent on the same period a year earlier, according to Eurostat, the European Union's statistics agency.
Presenting the EU data in Thessaloniki, officials of the Association of Greek Exporters said the percentage rise was the highest in three years.
The officials attributed the first-half increase mainly to external factors, including a rise in the US dollar and greater stability in Kosovo and the Balkans, allowing higher sales.
The officials estimated that exports would top 10 billion euros in the whole of 2000 from 9.2 billion euros in 1999.
In first-half 2000, exports to the Balkans totaled 1.2 billion euros, up 71 percent. Exports to European Union countries rose by 17 percent but their stake in the total fell to 44.8 percent from 52.2 percent. Exports to third countries rose by 57 percent.
At the same time, the country had retained a negative trade balance, and Greece ranked bottom as an exporter among members of the 15-nation EU, the officials said.
 POP-OTA union announces 48-hour rolling strike by local government contract workers for sanitation crews
Athens, 21/12/2000 (ANA)Contract workers for community and municipal sanitation crews (rubbish collectors, street sweepers etc) announced a 48-hour rolling strike on December 22 and 23 on Wednesday.
According to the local government employees union POP-OTA, collective agreements for the year 2000 have not yet been signed, despite the promises to that effect made by the deputy interior minister several weeks ago.
 Human Rights Watch calls for better treatment of detained undocumented immigrants in Greece
NEW YORK, 21/12/2000 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)The Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday issued a memorandum to the Greek government detailing its recommendations for the improved treatment of undocumented immigrants awaiting deportation.
According to a press release by the United States based HRW, "Undocumented migrants in Greece awaiting deportation face appalling detention conditions ... detainees lived in conditions of severe overcrowding and lacked access to fresh air or exercise, adequate sleeping accommodations, adequate food and adequate access to medial care".
"Such conditions, coupled with the lengthy periods of detention raise serious concerns that the Greek government may be responsible for cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment," the press release claimed.
Rachel Denber, HRW acting executive director for Europe and Central Asia, said "the fact that detainees may not have papers does not mean they do not have right ... people are held in ghastly conditions for long periods of time".
"The vast majority of the detainees had an administrative deportation order issued against them by the ministry of public order that could not be executed immediately because their home countries could not provide required documentation in a timely manner or would not issue documents to them at all. Some of the detainees were stateless and had no home country that could issue the required documents," the HRW press release said.
"When migrant detainees are held indefinitely and do not know when, if ever they will be released, their detention becomes arbitrary and that's a violation of international law," it added.
"A number of detainees had applied for asylum and were waiting for a decision or had already been rejected... asylum seekers in general should not be detained," the report stressed.
HRW also called on international organizations, Greece is a member of, to ensure that the country complies with the "international and regional standards for the treatment of detainees".
 Respected Greek scientists denies links between new variant CJD and consumption of meat
Athens, 21/12/2000 (ANA)You can't get Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) by eating meat a Thessaloniki University professor of medicine told ANA correspondent Sotiris Theologidis during an exclusive interview on Wednesday, saying that their was no scientific evidence that the disease was transmitted through meat consumption.
According to Prof. Stavros Baloyiannis, the director of the 1st Neurological Clinic at Thessaloniki's AHEPA hospital and a member of the European program for monitoring the course of the disease, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or 'mad cow' disease was primarily transmitted between animals of the same species and not to humans.
Baloyiannis - a highly respected scientist in Greece and abroad with a considerable number of publications to his name - was categorical in stating that the disease could not be transmitted by eating any kind of meat, whether beef or anything else.
He attributed the recent increase in recorded cases of new variant CJD - a brain-wasting disease similar to BSE that affects humans and is invariably fatal - to the existence of better diagnostic tools, which made the disease easier to identify at earlier stages, rather than a spike in the real number of cases. In Greece, he added, the rate of occurrence of the disease was still one in ten million - in other words about one case a year.
Asked about the panic regarding beef consumption that has spread throughout Europe, Baloyiannis said that this was unjustified. The destruction of diseased cattle, he said, was a precaution against the spread of the disease among Europe's herds.
To guard against a largely theoretical possibility of infection in humans, he concluded, it was better if consumers avoided animal parts such as brains, marrow, glands and spleen where the mutated prion proteins associated with the disease tended to aggregate.
Apart from that, the professor said the disease was caused by the chance mutation of prion proteins linked to a number of factors, such as irradiation, stress, medication or even no obvious external cause.
Professor Stavros Baloyiannis was born in Thessaloniki in 1944 and has been director of the AHEPA Neurological Clinic since 1992. He carried out post-graduate studies in the US, Belgium, UK and Japan and is a visiting professor at the universities of Harvard and Taft, as well as at Alexandroupolis University.
He is the author of 12 books on his field and has published approximately 300 papers in Greek and foreign scientific periodicals.
 Nat. Economy minister presents program to house ministry and government services
Athens, 21/12/2000 (ANA)Government services under the auspices of 13 ministries that are currently split up between 162 buildings around Attica are to be relocated and placed within easy access of metro stations, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou announced on Wednesday.
According to the minister, the sites that will eventually house the ministries have not yet been chosen.
Each ministry is currently divided between 11 buildings on average, and an agreement providing 480 million euros for their relocation has been signed between the National Economy ministry and the European Investment Bank on December 15.
The total budget for the relocation program is one billion euros and it is due to be completed by 2005.
Discussing the decision, Papantoniou said that this was the first time that Greece had decided to allocate funds to an ambitious program that would solve the housing problem for ministries.
He said that the seedy image of public buildings, which reflected a poverty that was not real, was at least as much to blame for Greece's "poor-relation image" with respect to other European countries as a lack of development.
The program is expected to drastically improve the level of service offered by the state to citizens, to maximize the efficiency of the workforce and save up to 23 million euros a year in rentals currently being paid by the public sector.
 Greek Navy to receive the first two Zubr-type hovercraft in January
Athens, 21/12/2000 (ANA)The Greek Navy will receive the first two Zubr-type hovercrafts in January, 2001. The hovercraft is in a position to carry three tanks or 360 soldiers and have a speed of 50 knots.
Greece has ordered four hovercrafts from Russia and Ukraine. The first one from Russia will arrive in mid-January and the second from Ukraine at the end of the month. The other two will arrive in the summer.
 US Navy's 'Truman' at NATO anchorage on Crete for refueling
Athens, 21/12/2000 (ANA)The US aircraft carrier "Truman" - one of the largest warships in the world and the flagship of the US Navy's fleet - on Wednesday laid anchor near Hania, Crete.
The ship is carrying more than 70 fighter planes and helicopters and has a crew of 5,000.
The "Truman" has recently completed an exercise in the Atlantic and Caribbean and will be staying at the Hania anchorage for four days to refuel, carry out minor repairs and allow the crew to rest before it sets off. It is due back at base at the end of May.
 Britain, Cyprus in close cooperation for release of abducted Greek Cypriot
NICOSIA, 21/12/2000 (CNA/ANA)Britain and Cyprus are in close cooperation to secure the release of a Greek Cypriot abducted last week by the Turkish occupation forces within the area of the British Bases, Jonathan Allen, spokesman for the British High Commission, has said.
He also said High Commissioner Edward Clay pressed upon Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash his serious concerns regarding this case at Tuesday's meeting in occupied Nicosia.
"The High Commissioner raised our serious concerns over the Tziakourmas case and he raised them forcibly," Allen told CNA on Wednesday, adding that "our objective is to get him released."
Panicos Tziakourmas, a building contractor by profession, was abducted by the Turkish occupation forces last week as he sat in his car early in the morning waiting to collect Turkish Cypriot to take them to their place of work, as he used to do on a daily basis.
He was accused by the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime of having drugs in his possession and appeared before a self-styled court in occupied Nicosia, which issued a so-called eight-day remand order. He is due to reappear before the court on Thursday.
Allen said "SBA (sovereign base area) police have not found any evidence that this man is involved with drugs", noting however that one must rule out such possibility.
"From the very beginning the SBA police cooperated with the Cypriot police and the UN and throughout this process the High Commission has been in touch with the Foreign Ministry," the spokesman added.
He pointed out that "we have been working very closely with the government and we are all working for the same outcome, to get him released."
Britain, a former colonial power, has retained two military bases on the island after it granted Cyprus its independence in 1960.
Asked about the next moves, Allen said "Britain has a role in this issue and we are following it very closely", but refrained from revealing any specific details on the steps the High Commission may take in the days ahead.
Meanwhile, UN spokeswoman Sarah Russell has told CNA that the force is concerned to secure medical care for the abducted Greek Cypriot, who is a diabetic, and ensure his well being.
The government of Cyprus has been working in earnest for the release of the Greek Cypriot and the President met on Tuesday with his wife, Niki, who said that President Glafcos Clerides is very concerned about the issue.
Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of Cyprus' northern territory in 1974.