|Wednesday, 13 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-12-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Greeks banks eye future without protective barriers
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)Greek banks will remain closed on Tuesday performing the final tests on their electronic and software systems to usher the euro era, as Greece joins the other 11 European Union member-states of the Eurozone.
Of course the euro will still be dealt with as a monetary unit and not as a currency, until next year, but banks will have to enter the arena of open competition with European banking giants.
Most Greek banks, however, declared their readiness to function in the new environment and to even expand in foreign markets.
The National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank, EFG Bank Group, the Commercial Bank of Greece and the Agricultural Bank of Greece already rank among the 100 largest banks in the Union, if rated by their first line capital.
The Greek banks, however, will have to deal with the loss of income from the abolition of commissions of exchanging foreign currencies to drachmas, as the Greek currency made its next to the final step in ending its existence on Friday and will be totally withdrawn from the market in 2002, ending a 167-year turbulent history.
New products, real estate ventures, investments in communications and strategic alliances with other European banks will be some of the tools the Greek banks aim to use to offset the aforementioned loss in revenue
 Deep concern over deteriorating situation in southern Serbia expressed by Greek foreign ministry
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)Grave concern over the deteriorating situation in southern Serbia, particularly the Presevo Valley, where armed extremist groups are continuing their activity even after the parliamentary elections of December 23, was expressed by the Greek foreign ministry on Friday.
According to a foreign ministry announcement, these guerrilla groups aim to test the stability of the democratic changes in Serbia, while also acting as a destabilizing factor for the wider region at a time when hope for peace and development had been reborn.
The foreign ministry condemns these terrorist activities and expresses the hope that the moderation, self-restraint and desire for dialogue that has been displayed by the government of Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica will find a response and be supported by the international community.
The announcement also notes that coordinated mobilization by the international community is now needed in order for the UN Security Council's resolution 1244 to be fully implemented.
 Greek ambassador to Belgrade visits Montenegro
BELGRADE, 30/12/2000 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)Greek Ambassador to Belgrade Michalis Spinelis on Friday visited the Yugoslav Republic of Montenegro and met with its President Milo Djukanovic, Parliament President Svetozar Marovic and Prime Minister Philip Vujanovic.
The Greek ambassador discussed Greek-Yugoslav bilateral relations with the republic's leadership and welcomed, on behalf of Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, the moves of the republic toward democratic processes, taking place through Yugoslavia.
Spinelis also expressed his satisfaction over the good cooperation between Greece and Montenegro, adding that Greece was ready to support that republic through development programs, such as those of the Balkan Stability Pact.
The Montenegrin leaders briefed the Greek ambassador on the basic points of their proposed amendments for the relationship of the republic to Serbia, within the Yugoslavian Federation and thanked Spinelis for Greece's support.
 Main opposition leader congratulates new Serbian government
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)Greece's main opposition has sent letters of congratulations to the new Serbian prime minister-designate Zoran Djindjic and the leaders of the center-right parties comprising the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) alliance over their landslide victory in last weekend's elections in Yugoslavia, a New Democracy (ND) announcement said Friday.
In letters Thursday to the DOS-backed Democratic Party leader Djindjic, Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, who heads the Democratic Party of Serbia, Civil Alliance of Serbia leader Goran Svilanovic, Serbian Christian Democratic Party leader Vladan Batic, and New Democratic Party of Serbia leader Dusan Mihailovic, ND leader Costas Karamanlis underlined the "historic importance" of "this new era opening up in Serbia", the ND announcement said.
Karamanlis further expressed hope for completion soon of the "democratic reconstruction of Serbia" and its course to the European family.
 PM chairs last government meeting of the year on revising the Constitution
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)The inner cabinet met for the last time this year on Friday in order to discuss the revision of the Constitution. Prime Minister Costas Simitis led the meeting, which was attended by Parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis, house sponsor and Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Justice Minister Michalis Stathopoulos and Simitis' consultant in constitutional law, Prof. George Papadimitriou.
Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou, who was unable to attend Friday's meeting, had met in private with the prime minister on Thursday.
In statements after the meeting, Venizelos said the government sought as wide as possible consensus on the constitutional reforms it was seeking to make, but would go ahead with the planned changes regardless if this consensus could not be achieved.
He denied that there would be changes to election law, saying that even if these were planned they would only go into effect until the elections after next.
Venizelos added that the changes planned under the revision of the Constitution would cease to make the electoral system a weapon in the hands of whatever government happened to be in power.
Discussion of the Constitutional revision will begin in Parliament on January 10 and is expected to finish at the end of March.
None of the other participants of the meeting made statements.
 Fact-finding committee blames inadequately-trained pilots and malfunction for fatal aircraft accident
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)A fact - finding committee investigating a fatal 1999 accident involving the state's 'Falcon' jet aircraft, which killed alternate foreign minister Yiannos Kranidiotis and six other passengers who were accompanying him on an official visit to Romania, delivered its report to the Transport and Communications ministry and the relevant judicial authorities on Friday.
The report attributes most of the blame for the accident to the two pilots, who were inadequately trained to deal with the difficult descent resulting from a malfunction in the plane's auto-pilot.
The committee says that 24 seconds were enough to cause the tragic deaths of the passengers.
The report also holds the management of Olympic Airways and the civil aviation service partially responsible over their failure to pick up the malfunction in the auto-pilot.
 ND Deputy Spiliotopoulos accuses government
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy party Deputy and former Deputy National Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos on Friday accused the government of having considerable responsibility for the dissolution of state administration and control services, as well as of Olympic Airways, the country's national carrier.
"The publication of the report on the accident with the prime minister's FALCON, which cost the life of Yiannos Kranidiotis and the members of his entourage, reveals the considerable responsibility of the government for the dissolution of state administration and control services and of Olympic Airways," Spiliotopoulos said in his statement.
 Greece strongly condemns hostage-taking by Turkish-Cypriot regime
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)The Greek Foreign ministry on Friday strongly condemned the abduction and continued captivity of Greek-Cypriot hostage Panikos Tsiakourmas by Turkish occupation forces and the regime of Rauf Denktash.
Foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis stressed that the UN forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP) must intervene for his immediate release.
He said the Greek foreign ministry is in constant contact with the Cyprus government in order to coordinate their actions over this issue at the European Union and the United Nations.
 'Ta Nea' and 'Ethnos' run previews of defense ministry bill on creating professional army in Greece
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)According to a preview of a defense ministry bill published on Friday in the newspapers "Ta Nea" and "Ethnos", the first fully professional soldiers in the Greek armed forces will begin to be hired in the summer of 2001, leading to a gradual reduction of mandatory military service to six months.
The professional army will comprise 5,000 soldiers and the yearly cost of maintaining it is estimated at 20 billion drachmas initially. As the national service term is gradually reduced to six months, however, the annual cost of maintaining the professional army will drop to 13 billion drachmas.
According to the bill, professional soldiers can be men or women aged 16-26, rated to fitness levels I-1 and I-2, and having a minimum height of 1.6 meters for men and 1.55 meters for women. They must also not have an irreversible conviction for penal or civil offences.
Not eligible are all those who have been barred from carrying firearms during their national service or have served an alternative form of national service, and all those facing charges of desertion or insubordination or who have been stripped of their political rights.
Those joining the professional army will be required to stay on for a minimum of 10 years, during which time they will serve with front-line units. Women will serve in special administrative posts.
 Hunger strikes in Athens in solidarity to Turkish prisoners
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)More than 2,000 people were on a hunger strike in Turkey to protest the recent changes in incarceration conditions in the neighboring country, the Solidarity Committee for the Prisoners in Turkey said on Friday during a press conference in Athens.
The committee, which is staging, for the last 66 days, 40-day rotating hunger strikes here in Athens, also said of the 2,000 hunger strikers, 353 were committed to end their lives in that manner in protest of the "F-type" cells used in Turkish prisons and the violence exerted by Turkish authorities during the relocation of prisoners.
The speaker of the committee also said that hunger strikers comprise mainly of relatives of those incarcerated, which were Georgians, Armenians, Turks and Kurds.
 Communist Party of Greece says main target the creation of anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly democratic front
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)The Communist Party of Greece's (KKE) 16th Congress on Friday publicized a resolution analyzing the party's main target, which is the creation of an anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly democratic front, as well as the domestic and international political situation.
KKE, through the Congress's resolution, expresses strong concern over international developments and their repercussions for Greece, based on the assessment that the imposition of the "new world order" will create "bleak moments" for mankind due to the imperialist aggressiveness which is manifested in extent and depth in the economy, labor relations, social policy, the political system, the ideological and cultural system and the environment.
It also assesses that the migration wave, social crime, drug use and trafficking, racism and chauvinism are increasing and will create additional problems and does not rule out the possibility of a global crisis breaking out.
Referring to the European Union, KKE notes that its steadfast element is the creation of axes and counter-axes and in essence the logic of an EU headed by a tough nucleus is being promoted.
On the question of the Balkans and Greek foreign policy issues, the resolution mentions that the imperialists' main target in the Balkans is to create protectorate states, since the further breakup of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is being methodized and, consequently, the region continues to be a powder keg.
Dangers for Greece, it adds, are increasing "due to the fact that the Greek government remains a steadfast partner and assistant of the imperialist order in the region."
 National economy ministry publishes economic report
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)Greek inflation will remain at low levels, although the unemployment rate will be high and imports' growth will exceed exports next year, a semi-annual report on economic prospects by the National Economy Ministry said on Friday.
The report on "Current developments and prospects of the Greek and international economies" said that the average nominal increase of earnings would cover next year's inflation rate offering only a part of productivity's increase to workers.
It also said that the government would implement pledges of tax cuts and higher social spending, totaling 450 billion drachmas, next year.
The report forecasts that real workers earnings would rise by 2.6 percent next year and by 2.7 percent in 2002, structural changes in the economy would continue with the aim to deregulate fixed telephony market from January 1, 2001, and the country's electricity market from February.
The unemployment rate is expected to fall to 9.5 percent of the country's workforce by 2002, from 12 percent in 1999. Greece's unemployment rate currently stands at 11 percent, ranking second among EU states behind Spain.
Forecasts are based on a prediction that world oil prices would stabilize at lower levels, around 22-28 dollars per barrel.
The report noted that maintaining price stability in the country was not an easy task, especially if structural reforms did not move fast particularly in the energy, health and education sectors.
National economy ministry also forecasts that investments would increased at an annual rate of 11.6 percent.
 Year of torment for Greek investors
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)The Athens Stock Exchange suffered one of its more extensive and intense crises in its history in 2000, remaining on a declining trend for the past 12 months ignoring a series of positive developments, which apparently had already discounted.
The Greek bourse ignored a gradual and spectacular fall in interest rates, the confirmation of the country's entry in EMU and a decision to upgrade the market to a mature one early in 2001 by US credit agency Morgan Stanley.
On the contrary, the market reacted to negative developments, such as a three-month pre-election campaign, instability in inter-national markets due a strong US dollar and to rising oil prices, unwillingness by listed companies to support their share prices, and a series of unsuccessful initial public offerings and share capital increases in the last two quarters of the year.
This year's excessive downward correction of the Greek market could be interpreted as a counterbalancing factor to the market's excessive rally in 1999.
The general index ended the year with a loss of 38.77 percent, the biggest annual loss in the last 20 years, reversing a three-year rally.
The market's capitalization fell to 40 trillions drachmas, 35 trillion below its record high. Turnover totaled 34.6 trillion drachmas in 2000, down from 58.6 trillion the previous year. Total income from public offerings and share capital increases was 3.4 trillion drachmas.
A total of 60 new companies were listed on the Athens Stock Exchange during the year, while more than 100 companies have registered losses up to 80-95 percent compared with their record-high prices. A majority of share prices ended the year with losses more than 70 percent, while from a total 363 shares in the market, 340 saw their value shrinking by up to 90 percent during the year.
The market's P/E ratio was currently 16, significantly lower from an average P/E ratio of 26 in eurozone markets.
Only 25 shares registered gains in 2000, with the parallel market for smaller capitalization stocks suffering the heaviest losses. January saw the market losing 9.85 percent of its value after a decision by the European Union's monetary committee to revalue the drachma by 3.5 percent against the euro currency, allowing a cut in interest rates by the Bank of Greece.
In February, the general index rose by 0.24 percent. A decision by the government to call early general elections froze the market.
March saw the market resuming its downward trend, ending 4.17 percent lower. The official application for Greece's entry in the eurozone, following fulfillment of all convergence criteria, was largely ignored by the market. Investors were cautious due to a deadlock in the pre-election campaign.
April was the worst such month since 1994. The market broke the 4,000 support level setting a new daily record fall (9.17 percent) in April 17. The outcome of the elections did not encouraged sentiment due to a turmoil in international markets. The general index ended the month 11.35 percent lower.
In May, the general index finally recovered ending the month 8.44 percent higher, encouraged by an unanimous approval of the country's participation in EMU by EU member-states. Greek stocks resumed their downward trend in the next three months, losing a total of 24.6 percent of its value with turnover shrinking to record lows.
In September, the market recovered strongly ending the month 17.48 percent higher.
Next month, the market lost 9.97 percent, hit by a combination of a higher international oil prices and a collapse of the euro/dollar rate to 83 cents.
November maintained its role as a traditional negative month for the market (10 out of the last 11 Novembers since 1990 ended with losses), with the market losing 13.73 percent of its value. The government starts to feel the pressure on the progress of its ambitious privatization program. The last trading month of 2000 ended with the market gaining 4.41 percent, but with turnover recording a new year low.
 Greek stocks ended last year session with small gains
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)Equity prices ended the last session of 2000 with small gains helped by a wave of strong buying interest for bank shares shortly before the end of the session.
The general index ended 0.34 percent higher at 3,388.86 points, ending an eight-session decline which pushed the index 5.89 percent lower. Net turnover was 42.87 billion drachmas. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.26 percent higher to 1.950.95 points, while the FTSE/ASE 40 index rose 0.30 percent to 395.44 points. The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 0.87 percent lower at 319.72 points. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 184 to 159 with another 15 issues unchanged. Agricultural Life, Athens Medical, Commercial Bank, Papafilis Mills and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded stocks.
 Equity futures end session with mixed results
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished the day on Friday with mixed results, as the bourse indices on which they are based showed a slight increase. The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 0.26 percent up, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 0.30 percent up. Turnover was 6,4 billion drachmas. A total of 1,247 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 4.8 billion drachmas. On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 979 contracts changed hands on turnover of 1.5 billion drachmas.
 Bond prices drop in heavy trade
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Friday finished lower as the Greek overnight rates dropped to 4.5 to meet with the Eurozone interest rates. The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 58 basis points same as a day earlier.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totaled 70 billion drachmas from 12 billion drachmas in the session before.
 Drachma's last trading day
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)The Greek drachma on Friday made another step toward the end of its 167-year modern life, as the country's central bank closed its last daily fixing session, in light of Greece's entry to the Euro zone.
The drachma, which was established by modern Greece's first King Otto on October 8, 1833, replacing the Kapodistrian Phoenix, will be totally eliminated by 2002, being replaced by the common European monetary unit, the euro.
Thus beginning on Wednesday, the Bank of Greece, the country's central bank, will quote fixing rates for currency against the euro, supplied by the European Central Bank (ECB), for 29 other currencies.
From Wednesday and until the total elimination of the drachma the bank will publish parity rates of both drachmas and euro, based on the ECB rates and as they translate in drachmas, based on the rate of one euro per 340.75 drachmas.
Thus on Friday the last trading day of the year the fixing rate of the euro was set by ECB session at 0,93 dollars, for a gain of about 10 cents over the past month.
 Banking holiday Tuesday, shops also closed
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)Banks will be closed to the public on Tuesday, January 2, 2001 and will reopen on Wednesday.
Shops, supermarkets and other commercial establishments that were open on the Sundays preceding Christmas and New Year will also be closed on Tuesday.
 Pensions to be curtailed for those pensioners who still work
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)Pensioners under the age of 55 would cease to receive their pensions, if they continue working, beginning on Jan. 1, it was announced on Friday.
For those over the age of 55 the 1998 law prescribes that they would be taxed to the tune of 70 per cent of income earned above a combined total of 250,000 drachmas per month.
The law, however, exempts public sector pensioners, merchant marine pensioners, farmers, those with underage children or children under the age of 24 that are studding.
 Postal Savings Bank to seek listing on ASE
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)Greece's Postal Savings Bank will seek listing on the Athens Stock Exchange in the next two years following the implementation of a restructuring plan, Transport Minister Christos Verelis said on Friday.
Verelis said the Postal Savings Bank has currently 2,500,000 customers with deposits totaling three trillion drachmas. A restructuring plan envisages the online link of its 135 branches and its 700 mail boxes within the first quarter of 2001.
It also plans to issue a cash card for its customers.
Verelis said Hellenic Post Office and the Postal Savings Bank would sign a cooperation agreement on January 5.
 Processes to start for merger between Ergodata and Info-Quest
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)The start to merger processes through the absorption of the Ergodata company by Info-Quest has been decided by Ergodata's special general assembly of shareholders.
The revocation of decisions taken by the first repeat general assembly as of July 13, 2000, was also decided concerning both an increase in share capital in favor of previous shareholders with the payment of cash and an increase in share capital with a program for the allocation of shares.
The date for the balance sheet concerning Ergodata's transformation and its absorption by Info-Quest will be December 31, 2000.
 Olympic Techniki expands in the real estate sector
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)Olympic Techniki, a listed construction company, announced its expansion in the real estate sector with plans to set up a real estate company.
The new company will have an initial capital of 30 million euros, with the aim to total 175 million euros in the next few years. The company is expected to seek listing on the Athens Stock Exchange in the next 12 months.
 Christodoulos delivers opening address at jubilee conference marking 2000 years since Christ's birth
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, head of the Autocephalus Greek Orthodox Church, gave the opening address at a Friday conference on "The beginnings of Christianity and its course through the ages" being held in Thessaloniki.
The three-day conference is being held at Thessaloniki's Aristotelian University and its end coincides with the Jubilee since the birth of Christ.
The Archbishop's speech was quite critical of the Church's actions in his address, talking about "inconsistencies between words and actions" and condemning "cases of racism and nationalistic fervor".
He also stressed that the Church must make haste and present its own proposal in cyberspace.
The Archbishop also warned against the dangers of worldliness, saying it was the Church's greatest enemy and blaming it for the rift between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches.
He spoke particularly strongly against racism, saying that "providing for one's nation could not be allowed to slide into racism or any form of underestimation of other nationalities", to add that national differences were not justified in the Church of Christ.
Events celebrating the completion of 2000 years since the birth of Christ will continue on Saturday with a concert at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall and peak on Sunday with a mass at the city's Aghios Dimitrios temple officiated by the Archbishop.
 Archbishop Christodoulos releases New Year message for Greek Orthodox faithful
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)In a New Year message released on Friday, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos stressed that the Greek Orthodox Church and traditions "were a source of capital" for Greek people to use in solving their everyday problems, while he urged that people emphasize efforts for the common good rather than society's failures as they appraised their own and others future in the new year.
The message in full reads:
"The start of every new year is a conventional opportunity for the exchange of wishes, to confront our hopes and to penetrate the inner world of our unfulfilled desires. It is accompanied by optimism and expectation, by plans and visions. We need the comfort gained from feeling that something is beginning anew with new prospects, new conditions, even if these are old. We are called on to regroup our forces and judge ourselves, to give ourselves new hopes.
All this is not just a chimera. It is a spiritual need we have to look upon our future with optimism. In our desire for self-criticism, however, we often add our realization that our world is slipping into the borders of insanity. We like to paint the world around us in the darkest colors. To note our darker sides. To underline our deviations from the straight path. To be melancholy and self-derisory. As if we are trying to stall our efforts for a better world.
Today, I would like to invite you all to look upon the world together with the eye of Christian hope. To realize how many of our fellows are honest fighters, how many stand fast by their principles, how many are consistent in themselves. To take note how many young people want to change the world for the better, how many social reformers daily bear witness, how many fight for social ideals, for love, peace, brotherhood and virtue to prevail. And that with them are we also.
At the same time I would like to call on you to stabilize our Orthodox faith, because this faith in Jesus Christ secures for us a feeling of safety, cohesion and power. To give our hands to work together, all we who believe in the same Christian values, all we who recognize humans as individuals with the God-idea, who are nostalgic for a society of individuals. All we who insist on standing upright. In this land the Church with our Greek-Orthodox tradition is a capital that is unspent wealth. It is capable of inspiring solutions to our everyday problems and concerns. Let us use it once again this year."
 Police believe anti-terrorist squad car was taken by common thieves
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)Police investigating the theft of a car belonging to the anti-terrorist squad suspect common criminals, according to sources within the police force. The theft apparently occurred about a month ago, outside the Patissia Transfer Station, but was revealed by the newspaper 'Eleftherotypia' on Friday.
Investigating officers apparently suspect the car was stolen by common criminals, considering it too great a risk for terrorist organizations to use the car.
The car in question looks like an ordinary farm pick-up truck but contains an extremely expensive portable radio with an electronic system that can alter the sound of one's voice. Police point out that another car belonging to the anti-terrorist squad had been taken two years ago outside the Kolonos police station and had later been found in the possession of a gang of car thieves, along with 20 others.
 Mafia boss Prudentino convicted to 19 months by Thessaloniki court in absentia
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)A Thessaloniki court convicted 52-year-old Mafioso Francesco Prudentino in absentia on Friday, after he refused to appear in court to face charges of criminal possession of forged state documents.
The court imposed a 19-month prison sentence, which can be paid at a rate of 1,500 drachmas per day, in addition to a fine of 500,000 drachmas.
Prudentino was not released pending an appeal, but the court's decision allows him to avoid immediate extradition in order to complete his sentence in Greece. Italy has begun the extradition process. Italy's most wanted smuggling ring suspect was arrested by Greek police a week ago, but was arraigned on Friday because a translator could not be made available due to the holiday season. Prudentino, who claims to be a tavern owner in Italy, is allegedly an Italian mob kingpin accused of directing a cigarette smuggling ring across southeastern Europe, stretching from Italy to Bulgaria.
He is thought to be a member of the infamous Mafia organization Sacra Corona Unita and is wanted in many European states for murder and smuggling of guns and cigarettes, as well as other criminal activities.
 Soprano Theodoridou sings Italian, Greek and American composers
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)Renowned Greek soprano Sonia Theodoridou is staging a series of recitals of Italian, Greek and American composers in Rhodes, Kalamata, Patra and Ioannina. The recitals include 17th to 20th century Italian composers, songs by Mikis Theodorakis, Manos Hatzidakis and religious songs of the American black culture.
 American director to create super production in Athens' Concert Hall
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)The Athens Concert Hall will usher the new year with a great music spectacle directed by American director Robert Wilson, based on the myth of Prometheus and music composed by Greek Ianis Xenakis. The super production, to be staged on Jan. 27, will also kick off the events of the 2001-2004 Cultural Olympiad in Athens, directly related to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. The production will then tour the major stages of Europe
 Two armed robbers seize bag with 17 million drachmas from bank customer
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)Two robbers armed with a gun on Friday snatched a bag containing 17 million drachmas from a man outside a Eurobank branch office on Syngrou Avenue in the Athens district of Kallithea. Pantelis Paliouras, 31, was about to deposit the money in the bank but he was attacked and struck by the men the moment he got out of his car. After seizing the bag, they made their getaway on an Enduro motorcycle.
 Bank robbery in Holargos
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)Two armed robbers made off with eight million dr. Friday after holding up a bank on a main thoroughfare in a northern suburb of Athens.
Police said the two men entered an Alpha Bank branch in Holargos, on Messogeion Avenue shortly before 9:00 a.m., held employees and customers immobilized at gunpoint, and grabbed 8 million drs before fleeing.
The hold-up was recorded on the bank's closed circuit surveillance camera, the tape of which was being examined by police.
 Ten million taken by four armed robbers in Crete hold-up
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)Police in Hania, Crete launched a manhunt for four armed robbers on Friday, who stole 10 million drachmas from an employee of a Hania supermarket.
Three men and a woman riding three motorbikes, their faces hidden by helmets, held up the car driven by 25-year-old Kalliopi Papadaki at gunpoint and removed the supermarket's earnings for the day, which Papadaki was taking to the bank.
 Floridis files legal suit against football federation management over not forwarding appeal
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)Deputy Sports Minister George Floridis filed a complaint against the Greek Football Federation's management with the Athens Misdemeanors Court Public Prosecutor on Friday, over their refusal to bring his appeal against a decision by the sports courts before the federation's Appeals Committee.
Floridis had originally asked that Viktoras Mitropoulos be removed as president of the Greek football league, which was denied by a court specializing in sports arbitration. Floridis then sent a second document asking for a hearing before the Appeals Committee, a secondary federation committee that is empowered to consider appeals against sports court decisions that the management failed to forward. Floridis is charging them with dereliction of duty and illegally removing a document.
 Special design techniques will make Olympic Village cooler than the rest of the city
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)The Olympic Village being built for the Athens Olympics in 2004 will be cooler than the rest of the city by at least 3 degrees Celsius, according to a press release from the Athens Olympics Organizing Committee (ATHOC) on Friday.
Using special building materials, design features and abundant greenery, the architects of the Olympic Village will contrive to engineer a significantly cooler and more welcoming environment than in the rest of concrete-bound Athens and more pleasant surroundings for the 16,000 athletes, coaches and support staff that the city will play host to during the Games. The same architectural benefits will also be enjoyed by the 6,000 athletes, coaches and staff in the Paralympics a little later, and then permanently by the 10,000 or so residents eligible for free housing in the village from the Workers' Housing Organization (OEK). The techniques used will include using cool materials for the exterior surfaces of all the buildings, paints with a high degree of reflectivity and emission, colored tarmac with more than 20 per cent reflectivity and bioclimatic planning in the positioning buildings and design of common areas.
Most important of all, there will be extensive use of plants, shrubs and trees in the design of the Olympic village, where 80 hectares will remain free and for creating common spaces. Around 16.5 hectares will be taken up by the buildings themselves and a further 26 hectares will be used for roads, pavements and parking spaces.
According to the architects, the greenery chosen will belong to species that are native to the Attica landscape and can survive with a minimum of watering. It will also contribute to the protection of the complex from fires, with fire-resistant shrubs and carob trees planted around the perimeter.
According to the press release, the plans for landscaping the grounds will be completed by OEK and ATHOC in the first two months of 2001, and the first trees will have been planted by March. The last plants will be planted in November 2003, with possibly some additions shortly before the Games begin.
 ATHOC's Olympic Overlays report lists services to residents of Olympic Village in 2004
Athens, 30/12/2000 (ANA)Up to 20,000 copies of daily newspapers will be available for the athletes, coaches and support staff staying at the Olympic Village during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
According to a Friday press release by the Athens Olympics Organizing Committee (ATHOC), this is yet another of the services foreseen by ATHOC and listed in its Olympic overlays report. Olympic Village residents will also be provided with 20,000 guides containing telephone numbers and other useful information, 60,000 maps of Athens and Greece, while up to 90 tones of food to make 48,000 meals will be sent to the Olympic Village each day
 House President issues new message on abducted Greek Cypriot
NICOSIA, 30/12/2000 (CNA/ANA)President of the House of Representatives Spyros Kyprianou, further to his message of December 23, sent on Friday a new one to the heads of international parliamentary organizations, regarding the abduction and the illegal detention of the Greek Cypriot Panicos Tziakourmas by the so called "authorities" of the regime in the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus.
Kyprianou brings to the attention of the international organizations the fact that Tziakourmas' health has deteriorated and that "he is in urgent need of specialized medical treatment".
"Such treatment cannot be provided in the inhuman conditions in which Mr. Tziakourmas is held", he stresses, noting that "this humanitarian issue makes all the more imperative his immediate release".
Adding that Turkey and the occupation regime must respect and restore Tziakourmas' fundamental human rights, Kyprianou appeals to the heads of the international organizations to act urgently and exert all their influence so that the Greek Cypriot is immediately released.
Tziakourmas, a building contractor, is a diabetic and was abducted as he sat in his car waiting to collect Turkish Cypriot workers and drive them to their workplace. He was parked within one of the military bases Britain has retained since Cyprus gained its independence in 1960, Dekelia, which borders the Turkish-occupied northern part of the Republic.
An illegal court in occupied Cyprus "ordered" his detention until a so-called trial takes place. He is to face drug possession "charges", in view of claims that drugs were found in his car. The British Bases police, which conducted their own investigation into the case, have found no evidence to suggest Tziakourmas had any drugs in his possession.
This is not the first time the self-styled Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus has abducted Greek Cypriots. This is the first time they have done so from within the British Bases area in what appears to be a retaliatory move following the arrest of a Turkish Cypriot red-handed, in possession of drugs.
 Cyprus, EU sign two financial memoranda
NICOSIA, 30/12/2000 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus and the European Union (EU) signed here on Friday two financial memoranda to help the country align its legislation with EU law and prepare for accession.
Cyprus is set to receive nine million euros for 2000, six of which is for the harmonization effort and the rest for bicommunal projects whereas EU funding for the period 2000-2004 is expected to reach 57 million euros. The nine million will be utilized correctly according to EU regulations and we still hope that Cyprus will benefit more from EU funds in its effort to continue its accession course as smoothly as possible," Finance Minister Takis Klerides said after he signed the protocols on Friday in the presence of the head of the EU Commission delegation here Ambassador Donato Chiarini. The EU official said the funding is a "good signal that we are together on the proper path to facilitate and accelerate the accession process of Cyprus."
"We are confident Cyprus will positively complete the harmonization process within 2001 or in the first semester of 2002," he said. The EU funds are part of a regulation relating to "implementation of action in the course of pre-accession strategy for the Republic of Cyprus and Malta. Some of the funds will be used for projects on cooperation on administrative matters with the EU, upgrading the VAT (Value Added Tax) services and the customs and excise department, in addition to support for Cyprus' accession to the Schengen agreement.
 Irish prime minister to visit Cyprus
NICOSIA, 30/12/2000 (CNA/ANA)Irish Premier Bertie Ahern is to pay a two-day official visit to Cyprus from January 9 to 10 for talks with President Glafcos Clerides and government officials.
According to the preliminary program, Ahern arrives on Tuesday, January 9, and will travel to the Presidential Palace for official talks with the president, who will welcome him. Present at the talks will be Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, Finance Minister Takis Klerides and Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis.
Ahern will lay a wreath at the statue of the late Archbishop Makarios III, the Republic's first president, and will inspect a guard of honor. After the talks, there will be a press conference.
Later the same day, the Taoiseach will meet Acting special representative of the UN Secretary-General and Chief of Mission in Cyprus Zbigniew Wlosowicz and tour areas where Irish peace-keepers are serving. In the afternoon the Irish premier will meet President of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vassilis Rologis and address Cypriot businessmen. President Clerides and First Lady Irene-Lila Clerides will host a banquet in honor of the Taoiseach on Tuesday evening at the Presidential Palace.
Before leaving on Wednesday, Ahern will meet House of Representatives President Spyros Kyprianou and Cyprus' chief negotiator with the European Union George Vassiliou.
 Cyprus protests massive air violations by Turkish warplanes
NICOSIA, 30/12/2000 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus has strongly protested massive violations of its national air space and the FIR (Flight Information Region) from 23 October to the 30 November this year by Turkish military aircraft, stressing such acts constitute a violation of international law. In a five-page letter to the Security Council, Cyprus' permanent representative to the UN Ambassador Sotos Zackheos pointed out that the Turkish government "should abide by the UN Charter, respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus and stop this menacing, provocative action."
He expressed the hope that Ankara will show the necessary positive attitude to see that the forthcoming round of proximity talks, conducted by the UN, and all efforts for a settlement in Cyprus on the basis of UN resolutions, will not be adversely affected.
The UN has held five rounds of proximity talks with the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides over the past twelve months and is scheduled to hold another round in late January next year.
In the letter the Ambassador lists numerous violations of Cyprus' air space by Turkish C-130s, UH-60 military aircraft, F-16 and CN-235 aircraft, which took place from the last week in October to the end of November this year, in violation of international safety regulations and international law and order.
The Cypriot diplomats letter is said to be circulated as a document of the General Assembly and of the Security Council.