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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-12-29

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 will stand by new Serbian government, FM Papandreou says
  • [02] National defense minister praises Greek people's sacrifices
  • [03] PM Simitis discusses draft law on political funds with interior minister
  • [04] Two party system will not be overturned, Karamanlis says
  • [05] French FM Vedrine says "Turkey does not fulfill conditions and criteria of Copenhagen on any issue"
  • [06] Karamanlis meets with members of repatriated Black Sea Greek community in Menidi
  • [07] Simitis removes one time adviser from party coordinating committee
  • [08] Greek stocks end lower in subdued trade
  • [09] Commercial and General Bank announce interest rate cuts
  • [10] Technical Olympic USA company planning new buyouts
  • [11] Economic and Social Committee reports on bills prepared by Health ministry for reform of Greek health system
  • [12] Consumer group publishes annual report
  • [13] New directive on medicine prices issued
  • [14] Labor minister, trade unions and employers meet to discuss changes to OAED
  • [15] Forced state employee transfers put on freeze
  • [16] Public Works ministry denies press reports of delays in opening of new airport at Spata
  • [17] Greece to tender communication strategy on road safety
  • [18] Archbishop Christodoulos to attend three-day jubilee in Thessaloniki
  • [19] Athens Academy awards conferred
  • [20] Foreign Minister says abduction of Greek Cypriot a 'terrorist act'
  • [21] President Clerides meets Euro MPs

  • [01] Greece will stand by new Serbian government, FM Papandreou says

    Athens, 29/12/2000 (ANA)

    Greece on Thursday welcomed Saturday's Serbian parliamentary election result describing it as a consolidation of democracy and assured that it would support the Serbian people's efforts to join the European family of countries.

    Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou congratulated in a message Zoran Djindjic, leader of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) and Serbian Prime Minister designate, for his party's victory in Saturday's parliamentary elections.

    I would like to warmly congratulate you on your election victory. I believe that your victory consolidates democracy in your country and reaffirms the will of the Serbian people to move forward with changes, which are necessary to secure the course toward the European family, he said.

    In the implementation of your difficult task, Greece and the Greek government will be by your side offering their full and friendly support, he concluded.

    The DOS, an alliance backing Djindjic and Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, won an overwhelming 64.08 per cent of the vote, securing 176 seats in the 250-member Serbian parliament. Milosevic's socialists won only 13.76 per cent and 37 seats.

    [02] National defense minister praises Greek people's sacrifices

    Athens, 29/12/2000 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Thursday, addressing representatives of social partners in Kalymnos during a meeting held on the island, the Greek people are entitled to see the successful outcome of the efforts, sacrifices and contribution they have made all these years.

    Tsohatzopoulos referred to Greece's accession to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), saying that "the Greek people, with their sacrifices over 5-6 years, succeeded securing in the new European Union as it is being shaped, an equal position in the nucleus of this new unity, with the same rights as the other countries and, consequently, the right to claim the promotion of Greek interests from a more effective base."

    He also referred to the strengthening of the role of the armed forces and to Greek-Turkish relations, noting that "the message should pass that the strength, power and prevention secured by the armed forces guarantee conditions of security, peace and peaceful coexistence."

    "All are aware now that nobody slips any more towards procedures of bilateral confrontation, but only in an exceptional case. The efforts of peoples are supported in collective security institutions to enable solutions to be found to problems. However, a precondition for one to have a result is that it should be strong and have infrastructures. Namely, a people determined to support such a strong preventive policy in the armed forces and in economic development in general. Economic strength and military prevention go together," he said.

    "The claim of the peoples of Europe at this time is the participation of all, in a just way, in employment, knowledge and new technology and, above all, in the major issues of environmental protection, the protection of the quality of life and man himself," he said on the island of Kos at the end of his tour of islands in the northern Dodecannese complex.

    [03] PM Simitis discusses draft law on political funds with interior minister

    Athens, 29/12/2000 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou on Thursday discussed the draft law on political funds, since Papandreou will be unable to attend Friday's meeting of the Constitution Revision Committee under the prime minister's chairmanship.

    Papandreou met Simitis as she will be chairing the dialogue between political parties on their funding, the introduction of transparency rules for their finances and settlements regarding the coverage of election campaigns and candidates, expected to start on January 11.

    [04] Two party system will not be overturned, Karamanlis says

    Athens, 29/12/2000 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Thursday said that the current political situation with two dominant parties should not change, adding that it would not change.

    During a lunch he hosted for journalists, Karamanlis also discussed the possibility of institutional changes within his party, but discarded any possibility to establish a "dual leadership" system in the party.

    "It is not practiced anywhere, since in essence it would be based on deception," he said.

    He also discarded the possibility of ND losing votes to the new party Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos announced he would establish, adding that he expected PASOK to lose votes to the new party.

    [05] French FM Vedrine says "Turkey does not fulfill conditions and criteria of Copenhagen on any issue"

    NICOSIA, 29/12/2000 (ANA- G. Leonidas)

    French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said recently Turkey does not fulfill the so-called conditions and criteria of Copenhagen on any issue, adding that the special process named partnership agreement for accession does not constitute a start to negotiations.

    Vedrine, who was replying to a question at the French National Assembly on the ratification of the Nice Treaty, added that the issue of a possible start to accession negotiations would take place later in a framework, which does not yet exist.

    Vedrine's full statement was the following:

    "Regarding Turkey, I would like to remind you that if the '15' decided in Helsinki to register the application for Turkey's candidacy, without going further, without starting accession negotiations, is because all the governments of Europe, for over 30 years, gave promises to Turkey, signing agreements, many of which have been ratified, and because the presidents and successive governments of all the countries of Europe have told Turkey: 'You have a European destination. And what the real situation in this country may be, the most modern, the most progressive and open forces are based on this European promise, which might have primarily been given under superficial or thoughtless conditions, but in any case, these forces are depending on this promise'.

    "The Europeans, who have given serious consideration to the issue you are raising, assessed that it would be extremely destabilizing for progressive and democratic forces in Turkey to refuse to register the application for EU accession. This is the reason which led the President of the Republic to be a champion of this acceptance of Turkey as a candidate country."

    [06] Karamanlis meets with members of repatriated Black Sea Greek community in Menidi

    Athens, 29/12/2000 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis spent Thursday morning in a meeting with representatives of repatriated Black Sea Greeks in Menidi.

    Members of the community told Karamanlis that the Greek state appeared to have no policy for them and that they had been left to fend for themselves, despite the promises made to them.

    They said that they were being made to pay exorbitant fines for houses they had built without planning permission.

    Karamanlis said that the state owned a big apology to the repatriated ethnic Greeks, saying that the decision to bring them to Greece was correct but that the government had not followed through and had not been effective in incorporating them into society's mainstream.

    The main opposition leader said there had been no plan for the housing, education and employment of the repatriates and stressed that the Black Sea Greeks were right to feel outraged because the authorities dealt with them with indifference and inactivity and they were in danger of becoming isolated in their own country.

    Karamanlis added that his party would take the initiative and force the government to implement the solutions that it proposed for dealing with the big problems of the repatriated Greeks, while he said there should be cross-party cooperation on this issue.

    Later, the main opposition leader visited a playgroup at a camp for those made homeless during the 1999 earthquake in Athens, where the children sang New Year's carols for him.

    [07] Simitis removes one time adviser from party coordinating committee

    Athens, 29/12/2000 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday issued a decision removing ruling PASOK deputy Theodoros Tsoukatos from the party's Executive Secretariat Coordinating Committee, a PASOK press release noted.

    According to the press release, Tsoukatos was replaced by member of the party's central committee Yiannis Koutsoukos.

    [08] Greek stocks end lower in subdued trade

    Athens, 29/12/2000 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended lower on Thursday, extending their downward trend for the eighth consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Traders said investors remained sidelined ahead of the end of the year ignoring the latest bold move by the Bank of Greece to cut interest rates by one percentage point on Wednesday.

    Smaller capitalization stocks came under strong pressure, while investment and industrial stocks ended higher.

    The general index ended 0.47 percent lower at 3,377.34 points, with turnover at 94.84 billion drachmas of which 66 billion accounted for block trades.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks eased 0.57 percent to 1,945.98 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index fell 0.99 percent to 394.24 points.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 7,266.83 -0.52% Leasing: 552.48 -1.23% Insurance: 1,365.49 -2.27% Investment: 1,335.74 +0.47% Construction: 1,283.14 -2.78% Industrials: 2,077.86 +0.62% Miscellaneous: 2,875.94 +1.68% Holding: 3,866.50 -0.90%

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 3.03 percent lower at 322.52 points.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 253 to 83 with another 17 issues unchanged.

    Athens Water, Panafon, Metka, PC Systems and Papafili Mills were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): National Bank: 13,730 Alpha Bank: 12,225 Commercial Bank: 17,450 Eurobank: 7,100 Piraeus Bank: 5,670 Lambrakis Press: 5,000 Altec: 2,660 Titan Cement c) :14,000 Hellenic Telecoms: 5,530 Panafon: 2,650 Hellenic Petroleum: 3,545 Attica Enterprises: 2,930 Intracom: 8,215 Minoan Lines: 1,955 Viohalco: 4,060 Hellenic Bottling: 5,950

    Equity futures end lower, roughly 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 0.56 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 0.98 percent lower.

    Turnover was 9.1 billion drachmas.

    A total of 2,007 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 7.8 billion drachmas.

    On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 820 contracts changed hands on turnover of 1.3 billion drachmas.

    Bond prices rise in light trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Thursday finished lower in scant trade, for a third straight session.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.494 percent from 5.459 percent in the previous session.

    The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 58 basis points from 61 basis points a day earlier.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 12 billion drachmas from 14 billion drachmas in the session before.

    Sell orders accounted for the bulk of trade.

    Drachma flat against euro, up vs. dollar: The drachma on Thursday was flat against the euro at its central euro-zone parity and up 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 for the fourth straight session.

    Greece enters the euro zone on January 1, 2001.

    Also at the fix, the dollar was set at 367.780 drachmas from 368.870 drachmas a trading day earlier.

    [09] Commercial and General Bank announce interest rate cuts

    Athens, 29/12/2000 (ANA)

    Two more Greek commercial banks announced on Thursday interest rate cuts following the one percent rate cut by the country's central bank on Wednesday.

    The Commercial Bank and the General Bank announced new interest rate cuts, which will be effective as of Jan. 1.

    The Commercial Bank's savings bank interest rate will decrease by 0.75 units and will be set at 3 percent, while the interest rate for the "Privilege Commercial" deposit accounts for amounts in excess of one million drachmas will be set between 3.25 and 4.25 percent, according to the balance of the account.

    At the General Bank, the savings bank interest rate will be set at 2.75 percent, while the interest rate will be zero for account balances of up to 150,000 drachmas and the current account interest rate will be 1.50 percent.

    [10] Technical Olympic USA company planning new buyouts

    Athens, 29/12/2000 (ANA)

    The Technical Olympic SA company addressed a letter to the Athens Stock Exchange's board on Thursday, responding to recent press reports, confirming that its subsidiary Technical Olympic USA, which is active in the US in the home buildings sector, is preparing its new investment program.

    The specific program anticipates the buyout of a new company with the purpose of expanding Technical Olympic USA in the market of California.

    Technical Olympic USA is preparing its new business plan on which its expansion in the market of California, its listing with the New York Stock Exchange and the buyout of another home buildings company will depend.

    Regarding the amount of the group's expected profits during the 2000 fiscal year, its administration predicts the amount will reach 40 billion drachmas, while the turnover expected over the same period is expected to amount to about 550 billion drachmas.

    [11] Economic and Social Committee reports on bills prepared by Health ministry for reform of Greek health system

    Athens, 29/12/2000 (ANA)

    In a report on the first two bills prepared by the Health ministry for reforming the National Health System (ESY), the Economic and Social Committee of Greece said on Thursday that they would have to be supplemented by others since they did not fully address all the problems faced by the Greek health system.

    Among its recommendations is that the health system's regional bodies help make hospitals more efficient. It suggests that hospitals be made into single-share companies whose sole share is owned by the Regional Health Council or, barring this, private-sector companies. This would allow hospitals' to remain public institutions while giving them the necessary flexibility to do their work.

    The report also notes that the efficiency of hospitals is directly related to the way they are run, how much financial support they receive and how the management of the health system is monitored.

    Commenting on the bills, the Committee said it was positive that they dealt with the issues exhaustively, without calling for frequent presidential decrees or ministerial decisions on issues that were important and where delays could lead to a failure in the bill's implementation.

    [12] Consumer group publishes annual report

    Athens, 29/12/2000 (ANA)

    Food quality, high cost of living, slimming centers' operation, tourist and public transport services topped the list of Greek consumer complaints in the year 2000, a report by Greece's Consumer Institute (INKA) showed on Thursday.

    INKA chairman, Haralambos Kouris, told a news conference that consumer complaints totalled 104,323 in 2000, up 25.48 percent from the previous year, of which 17.38 percent accounted for complaints over the food sector, 11.50 percent over the cost of living, 7.65 percent over slimming centers operation, 6.65 percent over tourism and entertainment and 5.71 percent over public transportation services.

    INKA's report showed a spectacular decline in the number of consumer complaints over services offered by Athens Water, Public Power Corporation and Hellenic Telecommunications Organization to a total of 0.71 percent, 0.84 percent and 1.82 percent, respectively. The three utilities were topped the list of consumer complaints in the last few decades in Greece.

    [13] New directive on medicine prices issued

    Athens, 29/12/2000 (ANA)

    Prices of imported medicines and import processes will change as Development Deputy Minister Milena Apostolaki on Thursday signed a relevant directive.

    The directive bans the circulation of any drugs that are not in circulation in at least one other European Union member-state and the ministry would compare every year whether the price of each imported medicine decreased in other member-states.

    [14] Labor minister, trade unions and employers meet to discuss changes to OAED

    Athens, 29/12/2000 (ANA)

    A meeting on restructuring the Manpower Employment Organization (OAED) was held on Thursday at the Labor ministry, attended by Labor Minister Tassos Giannitsis, trade union leaders and employer federations.

    The consultants' firm KPMG-Kyriakou Consultants SA presented the first phase of the future operating model of OAED, on which those attending presented their views, while the minister announced that the project would be completed soon.

    According to the presentation, the operation of OAED would be based on a clear distinction between basic services and individualized services and clear recognition of two units for training and support.

    [15] Forced state employee transfers put on freeze

    Athens, 29/12/2000 (ANA)

    Central government employee forced transfers to local governments will freeze temporarily, following the postponement of meetings of relevant public sector administrative councils.

    The transfers involved 25,000 employees, which the government planned to move to local administrations.

    State employee unions decried the forced transfers and considered the freeze a victory, as they had threatened with strikes and other actions.

    [16] Public Works ministry denies press reports of delays in opening of new airport at Spata

    Athens, 29/12/2000 (ANA)

    The Public Works ministry denied press reports of several months delay in the opening of the new airport at Spata in an announcement on Thursday, saying that the airport would begin operating on schedule.

    According to the announcement, the airport has in fact been ready since October and has operated on a test basis to ensure that all its systems operate properly. In addition, the section of the Attica highway from the airport to the Geraka junction is close to completion and work has intensified in preparing the surrounding roads to facilitate access to the new airport.

    The Public Works ministry ends by saying that the new airport will begin operating in May 2001.

    [17] Greece to tender communication strategy on road safety

    Athens, 29/12/2000 (ANA)

    Greece's National Economy Ministry on Thursday announced an international tender to find an underwriter to draft and implement a communications strategy on road safety issues.

    The move envisages in changing drivers' attitudes and contributing in reducing road accidents.

    The contract will have 12 months duration and interested parties are expected to submit bids by February 16.

    National Economy Deputy Minister Christos Pahtas said reducing road accidents must be a national priority.

    More than 2,000 Greeks lose their lives and around 30,000 other are seriously injured in an average of 20,000 road accidents each year in the country.

    [18] Archbishop Christodoulos to attend three-day jubilee in Thessaloniki

    Athens, 29/12/2000 (ANA)

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos began a visit to Thessaloniki, northern Greece on Thursday night to attend a three-day jubilee organized by the Holy Synod and the Holy Metropolis of Thessaloniki.

    In arrival statements, Christodoulos said that Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos "is the patriarch of our birthright" and that nobody can dispute him.

    Archbishop Christodoulos said that Orthodoxy was proceeding united and assured that any problems which may have arisen recently in relations between the Church of Greece and the Fanar would be resolved soon.

    Christodoulos also condemned the refusal by a clergyman at the northern Athens suburb of Psychico not to give Holy Communion to two children and said that measures would be taken against him.

    [19] Athens Academy awards conferred

    Athens, 29/12/2000 (ANA)

    The Athens Academy on Thursday presented its annual awards during an event attended by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    Soldier Vassilios Rahousis and Paros port-master Dimitrios Malamas who died rescuing people during the Express Samina shipwreck last September topped the list of those honored.

    Awards were also given to both individuals and collective works by noted scientists and associations.

    The gold medal for Letters and Arts was given to Angelos Delivorias, director of the Benaki Museum, while in the natural sciences category award was given to "A. Kyriakou" children's hospital.

    [20] Foreign Minister says abduction of Greek Cypriot a 'terrorist act'

    NICOSIA, 29/12/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has described the abduction of a Greek Cypriot by the Turkish occupation forces "a terrorist act and a violation of international law" and expressed "grave concern" about reports that Panicos Tziakourmas is in ill health and was taken to hospital on Wednesday night.

    The minister said he was satisfied with the way Britain, on whose territory Tziakourmas was kidnapped, was dealing with the matter and trying to secure his release but added he would like to see their efforts intensified. Britain has retained two military bases on Cyprus since 1960 when it granted the island its independence.

    He said he has instructed the republic's embassies in European Union member-states to inform EU capitals about Tziakourmas' illegal detention and has asked Cyprus' permanent representative to the UN to protest the illegal arrest.

    The government is also making demarches to the Council of Europe and other international organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

    [21] President Clerides meets Euro MPs

    NICOSIA, 28/12/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    German Euro MP and Co chairperson of the Joint EU - Cyprus Parliamentary Committee Mechtild Rothe on Thursday stressed that a settlement of the Cyprus question is not a precondition for the republic's accession to the European Union.

    Speaking after a meeting with President Glafcos Clerides, Rothe expressed disappointment with the conclusions of this month's EU summit in Nice, saying it did not do enough for enlargement.

    "We had a very interesting meeting and discussed developments in view of a debate at the Parliament on the Nice conclusions," she said, adding that she expected the summit to prepare the Union better for enlargement.

    Rothe, who is on a private visit here, said she was optimistic Cyprus will be included in the first wave of enlargement.

    "I am sure Cyprus will be part of the first wave of enlargement but we cannot be certain that this will take place in 2003. I hope that it is 2003 for all the countries, this is not only for Cyprus," she said.

    The EU decision at Helsinki has made it clear that a solution of the Cyprus question is not a precondition for the island's accession, Rothe added.

    Greek Euro MP Demetris Tsatsos accompanied her.


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