|Thursday, 24 September 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-12-22
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Verelis discusses Olympic Airways future with Commissioner Palacio
BRUSSELS, 22/12/2000 (ANA B. Demiris)Greek Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis on Thursday met with European Union Commissioner on transportation affairs Loyola de Palacio and discussed the Greek governments plans for the sale of Greeces national carrier, Olympic Airways.
Verelis met with Palacio on the sidelines of the meeting of the transport ministers of the 15-member European Union that began on Wednesday.
He said that the Greek government would send to the European Commission the information memorandum of the plan to sell the airline, adding that the consulting firm Credit Suisse First Boston was in constant communication with Palacios office regarding the process the Greek government is following.
We are in total harmony with the European Commission and we are informing it constantly about every step we take, he noted.
Verelis explained that at this time we are at the stage of accepting expressions of interest by candidates wanting to participate in purchasing our national carrier," adding that this process is expected to last until the end of the year.
At the end of the year, he said, the information memorandum, which has been drafted by the Greek government, would be handed out to interested parties.
The interested companies would be called to submit to the Greek government their offers along with their business plans for Olympic Airways, Verelis said.
He said that the aim of the Greek government was to increase the temperature of interest for Olympic Airways, which was very low only a little while ago.
In an unrelated development, Verelis rejected the inclusion of self-employed truck drivers to the European Union directive ordering the scheduling of work timetables.
During the meeting with the other "14" ministers Verelis argued that Greece's special geographic and market conditions do not allow self-employed truck drivers to keep a schedule, as transport costs would rise dramatically, hurting the economies of remote regions and islands of Greece.
 Greece lodges demarche with US authorities over FAA assessment of Greek flight safety standards
Athens, 22/12/2000 (ANA)The Greek foreign ministry said on Thursday that it had lodged a demarche with the US government over a directive issued by that country's civil aviation authority, which said that Greece failed to meet international air safety standards.
In an assessment made public on Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had said that Greek regulators were not following the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) - a United Nations agency that sets minimum standards for government air safety regulation.
In an announcement on Thursday, the Greek foreign ministry said that it had taken the matter up with US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns, who told Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoris Niotis on Wednesday night that the decision was simply of a "technical nature" and is expected to be reviewed shortly.
According to the announcement, the FAA's "sudden" decision is not based on specific reasoning and does not agree with the assessment of the ICAO itself, as this was expressed in a letter from the ICAO general director to Greek authorities in September.
Commenting on the decision, meanwhile, government spokes-man Dimitris Reppas attributed the FAA ruling to the "transitional political period in the US, following the change of guard at the White House."
He stressed that it was in no way linked to issues of terrorism, or pressure for arrests related to terrorist actions and said that neither terrorism nor security at the Athens 2004 Olympics had been raised in talks between Burns and Niotis.
US embassy calls Greek aviation FAA rating 'based on international standards': The United States embassy in Athens on Thursday issued a press release detailing the decision of the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to give low marks to Greek aviation services, placing them in "Category II".
According to an announcement issued by the embassy the FAA "announced on Dec. 20 that Greece is currently not in compliance with international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations body. Following its extensive assessment of the country's civil aviation authority (HCAA), the FAA has given Greece a "Category II" rating."
"This assessment is part of the FAA's International Air Safety program under which the Agency assess the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that fly to the US," the press release added.
"The FAA's action was based on established international safety standards. The action is not related in any way, contrary to inaccurate reports in the Greek press, to separate issues concerning the sale of military equipment, the arrest of terrorist suspects, the transition from one US administration to the next, the 2004 Olympic Games or other issues. This is an issue of international flight safety and we would hope that future comments by the press and responsible officials would be based on objective facts," the embassy announcement claimed.
"The United States will continue to work with Greek civil aviation authorities to ensure further progress," the press release said.
 Gov't spokesman urges Turkey to deal with human rights issues in order to join EU; Parliament speaker holds press conference
Athens, 22/12/2000 (ANA)The tragic events taking place in Turkey cannot be the hallmarks of a European country, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Thursday when asked to comment on the violent operation by Turkish security forces against hunger-striking political prisoners in the country's jails.
Reppas stressed that both Greece and other countries had noted that human rights are being violated in Turkey, and that Turkey would have to deal with human rights issues successfully in order to join the European Union.
Meanwhile, Parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis told reporters during a press briefing on Thursday that "the EU has not shown that it fully appreciates the extent of events in Turkish jails until today."
Kaklamanis held the press conference to inform the press about a letter he had sent to his counterparts in Europe, the US and Canada. He expressed certainty that his letter would elicit a response, especially from national parliaments.
According to Kaklamanis there are already dozens of dead according to the official record, while relatives of the country's 12,000 political prisoners say that the dead number more than 50.
Parties protest developments in Turkish prisons: Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) party leader Nikos Constantopoulos on Thursday said what is happening in Turkish prisons these days is a disgrace for all of humanity.
Constantopoulos said all this is taking place only a few weeks after the signing by the European Union's foreign ministers of the partnership agreement between Turkey and the European Union, adding that even before the ink on the signature of the partnership agreement has dried the Turkish regime is treating with contempt and trampling on guarantees of democratic protection.
Meanwhile, the Political Secretariat of the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) held an extraordinary session on the issue of Turkish prisons under the chairmanship of party leader Dimitris Tsovolas and decided to denounce the EU and international organizations "which show a hypocritical interest in human rights, for the tolerance and substantive coverage they are giving to Ankara's military rulers."
DHKKI also denounced "the inhuman undemocratic regime of Turkey" and decided, among others, to hold a symbolic sit-down protest at the EU's offices in Athens on Friday morning.
 Eurodeputy calls Europarliament to action against incidents in Turkish prisons
BRUSSELS, 22/12/2000 (ANA - B. Demiris)European Union-Turkey Joint Committee member Greek Eurodeputy George Katiforis on Thursday expressed his concern over the incidents of violence in Turkish prisons, against hunger sticking inmates.
The ruling PASOK Eurodeputy said "we express our intense concern and indignation over the attack of Turkish security forces against defenseless hunger strikers".
"It is obvious that the attitude of the Turkish regime regarding human life and democracy is not close at all from that of the European Union, to which Turkey wants to become a member," Katiforis said in a written statement.
"We also express our surprise over the fact that the relevant resolution that was to be adopted by the plenum of the European Parliament last week, was withdrawn, following an agreement between the political groups of the Parliament," he added.
"For this reason we aim to reintroduce this resolution to the plenum of the Europarliament, and to undertake every necessary initiative for the condemnation of the anti-democratic and violent behavior of Turkey by the Europarliament," he concluded.
 Debate of the 2001 budget continues in Parliament; Agriculture minister presents policies
Athens, 22/12/2000 (ANA)Debate on the 2001 budget continued in Parliament on Thursday, with strongly worded attacks by deputies from the opposition parties and new proposals from ruling PASOK MPs.
During Thursday's session, meanwhile, Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis presented his ministry's policies in relation to Greece's first budget as a member of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), saying that Greek farmers were the group that benefited most from Greece's euro-zone entry.
The greatest change, according to Anomeritis, would be the low cost of money and low interest rates, which would now range between 3.25 per cent and 7 per cent for agricultural housing loans.
Another benefit, he said, would be the abolition of the agricultural monetary system linked to the so-called "green drachma" for a system that would be simpler and fairer.
Anomeritis' statements triggered strong protests from ND honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis.
PASOK state deputy Theodoros Tsoukatos, who was the prime mover behind a proposed bill for a rejected "guaranteed mini-mum income" tabled by 53 ruling party MPs, made proposals for greater efficiency in combatting unemployment.
He suggested coordinated action by ministries to this end, that every economic and developmental bill include provision for new jobs, changes to the structure of the Manpower Employment Organization (OAED) and the announcement of the new jobs created every three or four months to avoid government complacency.
Another PASOK MP said that the budget showed social sensitivity but lacked vision for life within the euro-zone and called on the government to complete educational reforms.
Main opposition New Democracy deputy George Kalos, conversely, rejected the budget's "social face" as a sham, saying that there were serious problems in educational policy.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputy Nikos Gatzis said the government's policies on labor issues and social insurance could on no account be described as progressive or socialist, since they have led to the effective abolition of the eight-hour day and to part-time employment, as well as excesses on the part of employers.
PASOK MP and former minister Theodoros Pangalos, meanwhile, rejected the opposition's criticism as "exaggerated" and said there were "very important positive points" in the budget, which he would vote for with "very good impressions".
His speech focused on the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF), which he said provided the opportunity for true economic convergence between Greece and its European partners, while he expressed concern over inability to absorb the funds that might lead to their reduction.
In this context, Pangalos warned that there was a danger of delays in implementing schedules and of a "staff war" between the new management agencies and other civil servants, since the former had been given an incentives framework that did not apply to staff in other government bodies.
 FM Papandreou received by Indian President Narayanan
NEW DELHI, 22/12/2000 (ANA / D. Konstantakopoulos)Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Thursday met with Indian President Koseril Raman Narayanan, after arriving in New Delhi, and discussed bilateral relations between the two countries.
The Indian president briefed Papandreou on his country's positions on the issue of nuclear weapons and on new Indian initiatives in Kashmir.
The Indian president also showed interest on being informed on developments in the European Union, particularly the outcome of the Nice summit, and the prospects in relations between western Europe and the United States.
On his part, Papandreou briefed President Narayanan on the positions of Athens in Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus issue and the situation prevailing in the wider region of the eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans.
Papandreou will be holding talks with the Indian foreign minister on Friday and will also be meeting Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vatjpayi, as well as the leader of the opposition Congress Party Sonia Gandhi.
 PM chairs meeting on utilization of 3rd CSF funds
Athens, 22/12/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday chaired a meeting of government and party officials on the utilization of 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF) funds.
PASOK Central Committee Secretary General Costas Skandalidis said later conferences will take place in all of the country's regions in the first half of 2001, which will focus on one issue in each region and will result from a careful study of each region's problems and priorities.
A conference on development will also take place in January and will be attended by all regional officials participating in the processes for preparing regional programs.
The government attributes great importance on the conference since all its members and all the members of PASOK's Central Committee and Parliamentary Group will participate in the process.
Skandalidis said the conference is a process of great importance for development and a full clarification of the main policy of both the government and the party on development targets will take place there.
 Greece signs contract for procurement of SUPER PUMA research and rescue helicopters
Athens, 22/12/2000 (ANA)The contract for the procurement of four SUPER PUMA research and rescue helicopters totalling 61,741,925 euro was signed in Athens on Thursday.
The contract also provides for the training of the helicopter crews.
The Harbor Corps already has four similar helicopters.
The training of the crews will be completed before the delivery of the new helicopters, which will start 21 months after the activation of the contract.
The offset benefits amount to 100 per cent of the main procurement. Their nominal value is 4.2 billion drachmas, that is, 20 per cent of the amount of the main procurement.
The Greek companies participating in the materialization of the offset benefit programs are EAB, ELFON and DEFINET.
The contract was signed in the presence of National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos by the ministry's general director for armaments Giorgos Kolliris and the representative of the company Werner Weiss.
 Moscow and Ecumenical Patriarchate talks over Estonian Church fail to yield results; service for Diodoros
ISTANBUL, 22/12/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)An attempt to smooth over differences between the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanar, Istanbul and the Russian Orthodox Church regarding Estonia has failed to yield results, ecclesiastical sources said on Thursday.
They said talks with the Moscow Patriarchate on this issue would continue in January.
There had been intense activity between Moscow and Fanar in the past few days in order to overcome the problems between the two Churches before the Christmas holiday.
Had the effort been successful, it would have meant that the Moscow Patriarchate would have been represented at a gathering of Orthodox Christian Patriarchs that is to be held in Istanbul on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
The Moscow church had earlier announced that it would not attend the gathering as a protest to statements made by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos after an official visit to Estonia.
On Thursday, meanwhile, the Ecumenical Patriarch received a visit from the Ukrainian Ambassador to Turkey Alexander Motsyk, at the head of a 10-member delegation from the Ukrainian Parliament.
The Ukrainian delegation asked for Vartholomeos' help in dealing with a crisis in the Ukrainian Church.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate and Moscow Patriarchate have worked together to deal with the chronic problems faced by Orthodox Christians in the Ukraine.
Diodoros: A Thursday announcement from the Ecumenical Patriarchate said that Laodicaea Metropolitan Iakovos and Sasimae Metropolitan Gennadios would represent the Patriarchate at the funeral of Jerusalem Patriarch Diodoros, to be held on Friday in Jerusalem.
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos in the chapel of St. Andreas held a special service for the recently deceased Patriarch.
Patriarch Diodoros passed away on Tuesday night at the age of 77 in a Jerusalem hospital, where he had been receiving care for kidney failure in the past few years.
Born Damianos Karivalis in 1923 on the Greek island of Hios, he arrived in Jerusalem in October 1938. He began his studies at the Athens Theological School in 1952 and returned to Jerusalem in 1957.
He was elected Patriarch of Jerusalem on February 3, 1981, and enthroned a few days later.
While head of the Jerusalem Orthodox Church he succeeded in reforming the Patriarchate and putting the Church's property to effective use, though health problems have plagued him in later years.
 Niotis arrives in Jerusalem to attend funeral of Patriarch Diodoros
JERUSALEM, 22/12/2000 (ANA - M. Papoutsaki)Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoris Niotis arrived in Jerusalem on Thursday night to represent the government at the funeral of the Patriarch of Jerusalem Diodoros on Friday morning. The body of the late Patriarch lay in state at Saint Constantine's Cathedral in the center of the city since Thursday morning.
The Patriarch of Alexandria Petros and Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos are expected to arrive on Friday morning. According to the program prepared, the funeral service is expected to end at 9.30-10 a.m. and then the body will be taken to the Mount of Olives for burial. Earlier, a service will also be held outside the Armenian Patriarchate.
There are three main candidates to succeed Diodoros. They are the Metropolitan of Vostroi Timotheos, the Metropolitan of Ierapolis and Exarch of the Holy Sepulchre in Athens Eirinaios and the Metropolitan of Petra Kornilios. According to reports, there is a desire for the Metropolitan of Switzerland Damaskinos to be among the candidates as well.
The election of the new Patriarch will take place in about 40 days' time.
 Patriarch of Romania Theoktistos thanks Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos for visit to Romania
ISTANBUL, 22/12/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)The Patriarch of Romania Theoktistos has addressed a letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, thanking him for his visit to Romania last October.
"Your visit to our country had a great spiritual response and your speeches were received with particular appreciation by the cultural and academic world of Romania," the letter said.
The Patriarch of Romania is expected to arrive in Istanbul to attend the meeting of Orthodox Patriarchs on December 24-26
 Yugoslav president to visit Greece on January 16
Athens, 22/12/2000 (ANA)Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica will visit Greece on January 16, 2001, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Thursday.
Kostunica, who will visit Athens at the invitation of President Kostis Stephanopoulos, will hold talks on bilateral issues and the situation in the Balkans with his Greek counterpart and the country's political leadership.
 Avramopoulos says new party to be founded in mid-2001
Athens, 22/12/2000 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Thursday received Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos who briefed him on his decision to proceed in forming a new political party.
Following his 40-minute meeting with the president, Avramopoulos stated that his aim was to renew the country's political life and to open new horizons of optimism for Greek society.
The mayor said he briefed Stephanopoulos on the issue of the establishment of the new party and discussed with him matters concerning the country.
Replying to questions, Avramopoulos said the party would be founded in the middle of next year. He added that his political office would start operating early next year and that his associates would start preparing organizational matters and the founding declaration.
 'Whining' and dining in New Democracy
Athens, 22/12/2000 (ANA)Concern over the course of main opposition New Democracy party were expressed late Wednesday in private discussions among 25 party MPs and cadres representing all political trends and generations, during a widely-publicized dinner hosted by MP Elsa Papadimitriou.
The guest list included high-profile ND deputies Dora Bakoyianni, Anna Benaki, Michalis Liapis, Theodore Kassimis, Vassilis Michaloliakos and Stavros Dimas.
Papadimitriou plans to host two more such dinners, one in honor of ND leader Costas Karamanlis and the other in honor of ND honorary president and former premier Costas Mitsotakis.
Several MPs, including Kassimis and Michaloliakos, told reporters before going into the dinner that there needed to be a synthesis of the different views in the party to achieve unanimity and unity.
Other MPs spoke derogatorily of Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos' recently-announced new political party, while George Salagoudis, a long-standing New Democracy MP from Thessaloniki, said the Avramopoulos party would "take on its true dimensions" after the holidays, adding that it would have very little effect on the ND rank and file.
Indicative of the internal goings on in ND, another group of MPs headed by George Alogoskoufis had lunch together on Wednesday, and expressed concern over the upcoming party Congress.
They MPs expressed the view that party leader Costas Karamanlis should undertake initiatives for the return of members ousted from the party, instituting a specific term for the party leadership, and establishing a code of ethics so that disagreements would be kept on a political level and not be turned into personal clashes.
 EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner praises achievements of Greek economy
BRUSSELS, 22/12/2000 (ANA - V. Demiris)European Union Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pedro Solbes on Thursday praised the achievements of the Greek economy and stressed the need for a speedup in structural changes in the economy and for the easing of short-term interest rates.
"Greece was accepted in the euro zone thanks to the successful efforts it made in the economic sector with the complete fulfillment of Maastricht criteria for its accession to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)," he told a press conference on the contribution of public finances to development and employment.
However, he acknowledged that Greece and the other member-states are currently facing a problem with inflation, which is primarily due to the increase in oil prices.
Solbes further said that Greece is well aware that as of January 1, 2001 the drachma parity with the euro will become "locked" which means, as he said, that the implement for monetary policy would not be able to be used to strengthen the competitiveness of the economy.
 License granted to Hellenic Telecommunications Organization to develop and exploit second GSM network in Bulgaria
SOFIA, 22/12/2000 (ANA - B. Borisov)The Bulgarian cabinet on Thursday approved a proposal by the relevant Public Telecommunications Committee (DET) to grant a license for the development, maintenance and exploitation of the second Bulgarian mobile telephony network GSM to the Greek Telecommunications Organization (OTE) for the next 15 years.
OTE had won the Bulgarian state's international auction last Sunday by offering 135 million dollars for the license to develop and exploit the second GSM network.
DET is expected to issue OTE's license over the next two weeks, while the Greek organization will have to pay the relevant price over the same period.
Two companies are currently active in the Bulgarian mobile telephony market. The private MobilTel company, which has 500,000 subscribers and which had been granted the first GSM license five years ago and the state-run Mobicom company in which the British Cable and Wireless company has a 49 percent stake.
 Hellenic Petroleum gets EBRD loan for FYROM oil pipeline
Athens, 22/12/2000 (ANA)A subsidiary of Hellenic Petroleum, a heavily traded stock on the Athens bourse, on Thursday secured a $50 million loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to complete construction of an oil pipeline in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Elpet Balkan SA and EBRD at Hellenic Petroleums new regional office in Skopje, FYROMs capital, signed the loan agreement.
The pipeline will link state Hellenic Petroleum's Thessaloniki oil refinery and the OKTA refinery in the neighboring country, which it partly owns.
The pipeline is due to begin operations early in the second half of 2001.
 National Bank of Greece to launch new ventures
Athens, 22/12/2000 (ANA)State-run National Bank of Greece, a blue chip on the Athens bourse and the country's largest commercial bank, plans to retain its leading position in the market and launch new ventures, its governor, Theodoros Karatzas said on Thursday.
Karatzas told a news conference that among the ventures were a deal forged with Microsoft under which the US software giant would become the bank's adviser on venture capital investments in new technology companies.
National was setting up a venture capital fund with partners from abroad that planned to invest more than 70 million euros in Greek hi-tech firms, Karatzas said.
He repeated that the strategy of the bank aimed to keep it at the forefront of the market following Greece's entry into the euro zone on January 1, and expand its market share abroad.
 Shareholders of Aget Heracles, Halkis Cement approve merger
Athens, 22/12/2000 (ANA)Shareholders of Aget Heracles and Halkis Cement on Thursday approved a merger of the two cement makers through absorption of the latter and its commercial offshoot by the former.
Company officials said legal arrangements for the merger would be completed by the end of December.
On its completion, Aget Heracles' share capital will total 66,817 million drachmas. Issued will be 20,591,750 new shares, boosting the stock total to 71,082,707.
 Maillis unit seeks listing on Bucharest bourse
Athens, 22/12/2000 (ANA)MI Maillis Romania, a subsidiary of Athens-quoted Maillis, is seeking to join the Bucharest stock exchange, officials of the Greek packaging materials company said on Thursday.
The officials told shareholders in Athens that bourse officials in the neighboring country approved the move on Wednesday, and an initial public offer (IPO) will begin in Romania on January 29, 2001.
Assisting in the two-week IPO are Alpha Finance Romania and Alpha Bank Romania.
MI Maillis Romania would be the first company from abroad to enter the Bucharest bourse.
In another development, a Swedish subsidiary of Maillis, Astrap AB, has acquired Nydens Forpackings AB of Sweden.
 Prices of 167 medicines to decrease by up to 80 percent
Athens, 22/12/2000 (ANA)The Development Ministry on Thursday announced decreases of up to 80 percent in the prices of 167 out of 7,184 medicines currently available in the market. The medicines whose prices are decreasing include antibiotics and medicines for blood pressure.
On the other hand, the prices of 13 medicines will increase from 7.2 to 13.3 percent. Four of the medicines concern AIDS and forms of cancer.
Pharmaceutical companies had made 106 applications for increases in medicine prices, which were not accepted by the ministry's respective services.
The new price bulletin for medicines also lists their price in euro for the first time.
 EU to implement strict regulations on maritime transport
BRUSSELS, 22/12/2000 (ANA - B. Demiris)The merchant marine ministers of the 15-member European Union met on Thursday here and approved a series of measures, ordering stricter regulations on safety of ships and port facilities.
Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis represented Greece in the meeting and proposed several regulations regarding oil tankers and other protective measures for the environment and citizens.
The ministers ordered stricter controls on the licensing of ship assessors and the assessment of the seaworthiness of ships by the port authorities, while the periodic checks of ships will be intensified.
The checks will be have to be thorough and based on a series of objective criteria, ships that do not comply will be bared from European Union ports.
All ministers agreed to staff their respective agencies with expert personnel, by Jan. 1, 2003, the deadline for the implementation of the new regulations.
Member-states of the Union will also be obliged to place a "black boxes", similar to the flight recorders of airplanes, on ships, within a five years from the implementation of the regulations.
The ministers also decided to work with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for the speedy mandatory withdrawal of oil tankers that where not constructed with double hulls and then draft a regulations to that effect regarding member-states.
They also discussed stricter regulations on dry non-packaged goods loading at ports throughout the Union.
Papoutsis stressed that Greece agrees with the aims of the Union and noted that regulations regarding ships should comply with international maritime law.
The Netherlands requested an extension regarding the implementation of the regulations, and the council of ministers accepted it.
 The European Commission takes Greece to court over protective regulations
BRUSSELS, 22/12/2000 (ANA - B. Demiris)The European Commission on Thursday decided to take Greece to the European Court, charging that Greece has in place regulations that limit non-Greek roadside assistance companies from operating in the country.
The Commission charged that the regulations in place in Greece violate Union regulations on insurance and freedom of enterprise in providing services.
According to the Commission, Greek authorities did not respond to a call by the Union's executive body to abolish the limiting regulations.
The Commission received complaints from non-Greek companies that in practice it was impossible to offer roadside assistance to their insured, since regulations in Greece did not allow them to hire out local tow trucks, while setting up their own network would have been too expensive to be worth their while.
 Credit expansion rises in September
Athens, 22/12/2000 (ANA)Credit expansion in September grew by 18.6 percent year on year against 16.5 percent a month earlier, the Bank of Greece, or central bank, said in a statement on Thursday.
The rise was due mainly to a higher rate of increase in credit to the private sector at 27.6 percent year on year from 24.1 percent in August; followed by a rise in loans to the public sector at 14.3 percent from 12.9 percent a month earlier, the central bank said.
 Panafon to change trademark name to Panafon-Vodaphone
Athens, 22/12/2000 (ANA)Panafon, a listed mobile phone operator, is to change its trademark name to Panafon-Vodaphone on January 1, it said in a statement on Thursday.
Vodaphone of the United Kingdom is Panafons parent company, and the world's largest mobile phone operator with more than 65 million customers, the statement said.
 Shares slump in light trade
Athens, 22/12/2000 (ANA)Equities on the Athens Stock Exchange finished lower on Thursday with players selling off blue chips and turnover remaining low but edging up slightly
The Athens general index finished 1.54 percent lower at 3,401.01 points, with turnover at 101.84 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks closed 1.73 percent down, while the FTSE/ASE 40 index for medium capitalization shares fell by 1.33 percent.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: -1.63% Leasing: -0.77% Insurance: -1.89% Investment: -1.31% Construction: -0.67% Industrials: -1.27% Miscellaneous: -1.30% Holding: -1.62%
The parallel market for smaller capitalization stocks ended 0.09 percent down.
Of 352 shares traded, declines led advances at 235 to 94 with 23 remaining unchanged.
The most heavily traded stocks were Athens and Piraeus Water Board, Piraeus Leasing, and Metka.
Main closing share prices (in drachmas): National Bank: 13,620 Alpha Bank: 12,410 Eurobank: 7,130 Lambrakis Press: 5,235 Hellenic Petroleum: 3,500 Commercial Bank: 17,400 Intracom: 8,300 Hellenic Telecoms: 5,575 Titan Cement (c): 13,650
Equity futures end down, tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Thursday, in line with the bourse indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 1.73 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 1.33 percent lower.
Turnover was 15.7 billion drachmas.
A total of 3,425 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 13.5 billion drachmas.
On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 1,335 contracts changed hands on turnover of 2.1 billion drachmas.
Bond prices drop in record turnover: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Thursday finished lower with turnover hitting an all-time high.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.453 percent from 5.446 percent in the previous session.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 60 basis points from 61 basis points in the two previous days.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled a record 412 billion drachmas from 159.8 billion drachmas in the session before.
Sell orders accounted for the bulk of trade.
Drachma ends down vs. euro, up vs. dollar: The drachma on Thursday dropped against the euro and rose 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 372.800 drachmas from 378.840 drachmas a trading day earlier.
 Explosive devise causes damage to offices of Canadian gold mining company
Athens, 22/12/2000 (ANA)An explosive devise consisting of three small gas canisters exploded on Thursday at the entrance of the Thessaloniki offices of the Canadian company TVX Hellas-Greek Gold which has bought the Kassandria mines in northern Halkidiki, north central Greece.
The unidentified persons had placed the devise on the 8th floor of the offices of the company.
The explosion caused extensive damage to doors and furniture.
The company is in conflict with a section of the inhabitants of northern Halkidiki who are reacting to the mining on grounds that it could cause irreparable damage to the environment.
On its part, TVX Hellas claims that all the necessary measures have been taken to prevent harm being made to the environment.
 Cyprus government condemns means used to suppress hunger strike in Turkish prisons
NICOSIA, 22/12/2000 (CNA/ANA)The Cyprus government on Thursday condemned the means used by Turkish security forces to suppress a hunger strike by inmates in its prisons, describing them as "antidemocratic and inhumane".
Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou told his daily briefing that Ankara's attitude proves Turkey has a long way to go if it is to join the European Union and many changes must come about in the country.
The spokesman said "such attitudes once again prove the big changes needed so that Turkey can come closer to Europe and proves that the continuation of the present situation in the country is a permanent obstacle for the start of accession negotiations between the European Union and Turkey."