|Friday, 13 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-01-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 2004 organizing committee head upbeat over deadlines, security issue
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)The high-profile head of Athens 2004 Olympics organizing committee on Thursday reiterated that she remains satisfied with the Greek governments commitment to finish a handful of Olympic venues the so-called orphan projects on time and according to specifications.
Were pressuring and we will continue to pressure. Additionally, weve recently set up an in-house monitoring system to provide us with weekly reports on the (projects) progress, organizing committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said during a luncheon in downtown Athens that was organized by the Foreign Press Association (FPA).
Angelopoulos-Daskalakis statements come less than three weeks before a top International Olympic Committee (IOC) --expected to be headed by IOC vice-president Jacques Rogge -- returns to Greece to survey organizers progress.
Rogge, a contender for the IOCs presidency, expressed satisfaction in Athens early last month over stepped-up completion dates for several 2004 projects and preparations, nearly seven months after IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch issued an unprecedented and direct warning towards 2004 organizers to get things moving -- sharp criticism that caused a leadership reshuffle at ATHOC and the appointment of Angelopoulos-Daskalaki as president.
The all-important issue of security for the 2004 Games was also raised at the luncheon, in light of a bomb attack against a main opposition Parliament deputy four days earlier, an incident that again highlighted the frustration of being unable to catch a handful of urban terrorists over a 25-year span in a country that still sports one of the lowest crime rates in Europe.
"We've seen countries (Atlanta, Munich) that are considered safe being hit by terrorism and countries (Barcelona) with a problem holding events without any incidents," she said, reiterating that Greece has hosted numerous international sports tournaments without any problems ever arising, adding that a series of cooperation pacts with other countries have been signed and that a specific plan will be implemented for the Games, without however, going into details.
Moreover, in a rhetorical question to reporters and correspondents in the audience, she asked if they "feel safe walking" in the lively Greek capital.
In response to other questions, she said:
-- ATHOC's plans to have a rowing center at the Schinias site, near the ancient battlefield of Marathon and on top of one of Attica prefecture's only marshlands, will upgrade the area, and not destroy its environment as critics claim.
"We want the 2004 Olympics to leave a positive legacy for Greece," she emphasized.
Several environmental advocacy groups have decried plans to build the rowing center at the Schinias site, while lawsuits have also been filed.
-- The budget for the Games remains at nearly the same levels ($1.7 billion) as originally announced, with the government committed to providing $235 million.
-- "We don't care who the president (of the IOC) will be. We will cooperate with whoever is elected."
Finally, the one-time New Democracy deputy representing Athens noted in reply to a question regarding her political future that "there is no greater ambition than to make Greece the center of international attention in the summer of 2004."
 Greek president visits Greek speaking residents of Apulia, Italy
ROME, 26/01/2001 (ANA - L. Hatzikyriakos)The Greek speaking residents of Italy's Apulia region welcomed on Thursday Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos, who is on a three-day visit to Italy.
The Greek president first visited the village of Kalimera, which interestingly enough means "have a good day" and can be used in place of "welcome".
During his stay in the region Stephanopoulos met with mayors of 10 Greek-speaking municipalities and accepted a commemorative plaque from the mayor of Kalimera, while a local Greek folklore music group performed Greek songs.
Meanwhile in Athens, Deputy Press and Media Minister Telemachos Hytiris said that Wednesday statement by Stephanopoulos regarding a visit by Pope John Paul II to Greece stood as was said, adding that there was no governmental interference on the issue.
Pope is always welcome in Greece, Greek FM says: Foreign Minister George Papandreou said on Thursday that he was in "total agreement" with Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos' invitation to Pope John Paul II to visit Greece.
"We are in total agreement with the invitation to the Pope. The Pope is always welcome in Greece," Papandreou stressed.
He added that the invitation by Stephanopoulos is a bilateral affair between states and has nothing to do with the Church.
 Greek alternate FM visits Moscow, discusses economic, political, cultural affairs
MOSCOW, 26/01/2001 (ANA - D. Konstantakopoulos)Greece and Russia reiterated their special interest in the construction of the Burgas, Bulgaria-Alexandroupoli, Greece oil pipeline, which will allow for Caspian Sea petrol to reach western markets without passing through the already heavily burdened Bosphorus straights.
Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Elizabeth Papazoi in her meetings with her Russian counterpart Alexander Avdeyiev and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgenii Gourasov discussed the future of the pipeline, conditions in Kosovo and Armenia and the Cyprus problem.
She thanked Avdeyiev for Russia's support in the Cyprus problem and said that pressures on Turkey should continue, so as to come up with a solution to the problem, in light of Cyprus' accession to the European Union and the fact that Nicosia is ahead of all other candidate member-states in the accession talks process.
Russian officials on their part expressed their positive stance in principle toward Greece's election as one of the non-permanent members of the Security Council of the United Nations for the 2005-2006 period.
Discussions also included the European Union common security and defense policies and cooperation in the energy sector, which began during the recent oil crisis.
In addition, she discussed with her Russian counterpart issues relating to cooperation on Black Sea matters, as well as sea and air transport.
Papazoi also met with Russian Culture Minister Nikolai Svidkoi and discussed the drafted agreements on the operation of cultural centers in Athens and Moscow.
Discussions included Greece's proposals for the inclusion of St. Petersburg's 300th anniversary in the Cultural Olympiad organized by Athens in conjunction with the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
Finally, the Greek alternate foreign minister met with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexii.
 FM Papandreou reiterates Greek government's support for efforts to promote Cyprus talks
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Thursday discussed the Cyprus issue with visiting UN Cyprus envoy Alvaro de Sotto, thanking him and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for efforts to promote talks on Cyprus and reiterating the Greek government's support for these efforts, while reminding that they emanate from UN Security Council resolution 1250 on finding a just solution to the Cyprus issue.
de Sotto made a stopover in Athens as part of a tour of the region to seek ways of continuing Annan's efforts for a just and overall solution in Cyprus.
Papandreou referred to the intention of Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides to participate in the continuation of efforts and reiterated that it is important that this opportunity for peace and cooperation in the wider region should not be lost.
Papandreou and de Sotto also discussed the issue of Greek Cypriot Panikos Tsiakourmas, illegally detained by the Turkish Cypriots, and the situation in Strovilia and Pyla where, as he said, the UN has an important role to play.
de Sotto said Greece has an important role to play in the secretary general's efforts, adding that Papandreou was right in referring to resolution 1250 taken in June 1999 and saying that it sets out four main criteria for a settlement to the Cyprus problem.
He said the criteria are that all issues should be on the table, there should be no preliminary preconditions, both sides should be committed to continuing efforts in good faith until an overall and satisfactory solution is found and full consideration should be given to all relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
de Sotto left open the issue of whether the process followed by the UN secretary general will change, reminding that the secretary general's mandate for providing good offices has a wide content which allows many different methods to be pursued.
 Delegation of US Congressmen to visit Thursday
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)A six-member delegation from the US House of Representatives, headed by Republican Congressman Benjamin Gilman of New York, was due in Athens Thursday for a three-day working visit and talks with government officials.
During their visit, the delegation is due to meet with parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis, public order minister Michalis Chrysohoidis, senior foreign ministry officials, and main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis.
Gilman, a senior member of the House of Representatives and former chair of the House's International Relations Committee, has visited Greece several times, most recently in November 1997, a US embassy announcement said Thursday.
"He and five other American lawmakers will come to Greece to meet with Greek government officials and parliamentarians to discuss ways to strengthen US-Greece relations. This visit, during the first days of the new administration, signals the importance of this region to the (new US President George W.) Bush administration and the US Congress, US ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns said.
Just this month, he said, the US State Department "recognized Congressman Gilman's longstanding and deep commitment to international affairs by naming a new study abroad program in his honor".
The new program offers "up to 5,000 dollars to allow students of limited financial means to study abroad for up to one year at an educational institution outside the United States, and aims to broaden the student population studying abroad by focusing on students who might not otherwise be able to do so," the ambassador added.
The other members of the Congressional delegation are Wes Watkins (R-Oklahoma), Constance Morella (R-Maryland), Michael McNulty (D-New York), Bernard Sanders (Ind.-Vermont), and Steve Horn (R-California).
 Top gov't committee focuses on 'Eurofighter' purchase
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)A high-level government committee on Thursday focused on the issue of the armed forces' multi-million-dollar weapons procurement and especially the purchase of a new warplane.
Afterwards, Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos simply noted that the issue of a down payment for Greece's acquisition of the Eurofighter consortium's "Typhoon" is being "approached within the framework of our fiscal abilities".
In later statements, the government spokesman said the government continues to persist on the need to acquire 60 of the fourth-generation fighter planes, although a final decision will be announced after the conclusion of negotiations.
While noting that negotiations with the four-nation consortium - Germany, the UK, Italy and Spain -- are continuing, acting spokesman Telemahos Hytiris added that the first deliveries are envisioned for 2006, with completion by 2010.
 PASOK Eurodeputies meet Romanian PM in Brussels
BRUSSELS, 26/01/2001 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)Giorgos Katiforis held a cordial meeting at the European Parliament on Wednesday between Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase and the ruling PASOK Eurodeputies headed.
It was the Romanian prime minister's first visit to Brussels.
The Greek Eurodeputies congratulated the prime minister for the victory of the Democratic Socialism party in the latest parliamentary and presidential elections in Romania.
They also discussed with him the further prospects of cooperation between the two sides within the context of support of Romania's candidacy for accession to the European Union.
 KKE leader meets with Milosevic, discusses conditions in Balkans, Yugoslavia
BELGRADE, 26/01/2001 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga on Thursday met with Serbian Socialist Party leader Slobodan Milosevic and discussed conditions in the Balkans and Yugoslavia's future.
"All Balkan peoples and especially the Serbs are vulnerable to the strong pressures of the hegemonic policies of the big powers, whose unquestionable aim is to strangle freedom and independence and to minimize the sovereignty of peoples," the two leaders agreed, in a communique issued after their meeting.
Papariga said that the KKE offered its full solidarity to Milosevic and reiterated her party's positions calling for the departure of NATO from the Balkans and stressing that the "fragmentation of the Balkan states should stop", expressing the belief that the peoples of the Balkans can come up with their own course.
Milosevic, on his part, said that "all that is taking place in Serbia and Yugoslavia and the wider region is the result of the intervention of strong foreign powers, that do not wish for the resolution of problems in a peaceful way".
Papariga, during her official visit, already met with Serbian President Milan Milutinovic and will meet with Mira Marcovic, wife of Milosevic, president of the Yugoslavian Left Party.
On Friday, Papariga will meet with Greek students studying in Yugoslavia and camps of refugees.
 Communist Party of Greece organizes rally in support of Greek soldiers' return from Kosovo
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) organized a rally on the Athens university campus and a subsequent march to the US embassy on Thursday evening, calling for the return of Greek soldiers stationed in Kosovo and the transfer of Greek students to respective faculties in Greece, while demonstrators called on the government to remove bases and rid the armed forces of all nuclear weapons in their possession.
Demonstrators watched a performance by young actors denouncing what they called was the imperialist attitude of America towards other countries, as well as the stance observed by the European Union and NATO during the war in Yugoslavia.
Speakers addressing the rally also said "the Balkan peoples are being faced with a continuous crime being perpetrated by the US, NATO and the EU."
Referring to the uproar created by the issue of depleted uranium, they said "with what right was this nuclear material scattered in the lives of hundreds of thousands of non-combatants by the victors? What excuse can be given at present to the non-combatant farmers and workers in Yugoslavia which had been bombed with 'smart' weapons?"
On arrival at the US embassy, the demonstrators burnt dummies of missiles and NATO flags.
 Greece and nine EU members to face the E. Court on lack of PCB disposal
BRUSSELS, 26/01/2001 (ANA - B. Demiris)The European Commission on Thursday decided to seek recourse to the European Court against Greece and another five European Union member-states for failing to integrate in their national legal systems the Union's directive on the disposal of PCB chemical substances.
Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy and Luxembourg will be taken to court, while the Commission initiated the process to take to court Germany, Denmark and Sweden on the same charges.
Specifically, the Commission claims that all nine aforementioned member-states did not provide data and plans regarding the management for the disposal of PCB chemicals to the relevant Commission bureau, despite warnings.
The initial dateline for the submittal of data and plans was September 1999.
"I believe that the fact that so many member-states did not abide by this very important directive is very negative development," Commissioner responsible for environmental affairs said during the press conference, adding "the collection of data and creation of plans for the management and disposal of PCB chemicals, is a basic element of the Union's strategy to eliminate PCBs from our environment".
PCB is a dangerous chemical used in plastics and other chemical compounds, that is very dangerous to the health as it is toxic and is stored in human muscle tissue.
 An inspectors corps to be established for healthcare sector in Greece
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)The bill establishing a Healthcare Inspectors Corps will probably be tabled next week during discussions on the bill for the "re-establishment" of the state healthcare system in Parliament, Health and Welfare Minister Alekos Papadopoulos said on Thursday.
The minister also announced that soon, following current discussions on the aforementioned bill, separate legislations on the state healthcare system and on the private healthcare system would be brought to Parliament for discussion.
"The attempted reform is on the right course, there are, however, difficulties, due to entrenched attitudes that do not change with laws or Presidential Decrees," he said.
Former prime minister and main opposition New Democracy (ND) honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis stood against the bill's clause calling for only full-time employment of doctors in the state system and called for the lifting of the permanent appointment status of all public servant and especially those in the healthcare sector.
ND Parliament Spokesman Nikitas Kaklamanis said that his party did not agree with the bill and informed of the party's decision to vote against it.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputy Orestis Kolozov used a statement he claimed the minister made in the past, saying "the piranhas are becoming rich to the detriment of the peoples health".
 Interior minister says problem should be resolved of people meeting conditions for naturalization
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou on Thursday said the problem should be resolved of people meeting preconditions for acquiring nationality who cannot ratify necessary documents since some lack a passport (in cases of people having Soviet passports and not Russian ones), others lived in countries which are currently in a state of war and others are from Georgia and Azerbaijan.
She was referring to the issue of the naturalization of ethnic Greeks returning to the country, which has recently been raised by the main opposition New Democracy party through its Deputy Vyron Polydoras.
Papandreou said the situation should be remedied since a situation of illegal actions with forged documents has already started to be created and information has reached the ministry of people having to pay 250 dollars to obtain such documents.
 Athens Bar Association expresses solidarity to Istanbul Bar Association over 'White Cells' issue
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)The Athens Bar Association's International Relations Committee on Thursday expressed its undivided support for the Istanbul Bar Association and its President Yuzel Sayman in particular who publicly criticized the Turkish government during recent riots in Turkish prisons on its decision to permit the operation of new prisons (known to have special "white cells") without previously holding a dialogue with relevant agencies.
As a result of this initiative, the Istanbul Bar Association's present board is running the risk of a confrontation with the Turkish justice ministry, which has called on a public prosecutor "to take necessary measures."
The Athens Bar Association denounced the Turkish justice ministry's stance as being "unacceptable, provocative and undemocratic."
 PASOK leaning in acceptance of constitutional amendment regarding employment by deputies
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)Ruling PASOK party deputies on Thursday seemed ready to accept a government proposal for a constitutional amendment forbidding Parliament deputies from holding a job.
The proposal includes exceptions for university professors, practice of law related to politics, artistic activities on special occasions or participation in scientific conferences.
Long-time deputy and former minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos expressed reservations saying, "the Parliament will be poorer, if professionals in the sectors of science, art, professors, doctors or engineers, do not participate in it".
 Greek bourse holds above 3,000 support level
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)Equity prices ended Thursday's turbulent session higher on the Athens Stock Exchange helped by a wave of late selective buying in construction shares.
The market came under pressure initially, hit by selling activity from investors who "see" the market below the 3,000 support level, but recovered spectacularly later on strong buying in smaller- and medium-capitalization stocks.
Traders said there was a war going on in the market between those pushing the index below the 3,000 level and those who wish to end the market's plunge at this level.
The general index ended 1.16 percent higher at 3,068.16 points, after falling by 1.43 percent to 2,989.58 points in early trade. Turnover was a low 146.08 million euros, or 49.777 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.74 percent higher at 1,798.51 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index jumped 2.23 percent to 319.37 points.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 6,709.72 +0.16% Leasing: 475.95 +1.25% Insurance: 1,207.74 +4.87% Investment: 1,192.28 +0.13% Construction: 1,270.10 +9.02% Industrials: 1,821.00 +1.89% Miscellaneous: 1,983.39 -2.23% Holding: 3,166.06 +1.81%
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 4.0 percent higher at 250.35 points.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 247 to 88 with another 24 issues unchanged.
Alpha Bank, National Bank, Hellenic Telecoms, Commercial Bank and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded stocks.
Leading shares' closing prices (in euros): National Bank: 37.30 Alpha Bank: 33.30 Commercial Bank: 48.38 Eurobank: 19.62 Piraeus Bank: 14.70 Lambrakis Press: 9.28 Altec: 5.98 Titan Cement (c): 37.76 Hellenic Telecoms: 16.64 Panafon: 7.48 Hellenic Petroleum: 9.38 Attica Enterprises: 5.60 Intracom: 18.54 Minoan Lines: 4.98 Viohalco: 10.40 Hellenic Bottling: 17.72
Equity futures end higher, tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished higher on Thursday, in line with the bourse indices on which they are based, traders said.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 0.74 percent up, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 2.23 percent higher.
Turnover was 70.1 million euros on 9,705 contracts traded, the dealers said.
Bond prices end higher in heavy trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Thursday finished higher in heavy trade with interest focusing on 10-year paper, dealers said.
Entering the market was a new 10-year benchmark Greek government bond, the first since the country's entry into the euro zone on January 1, 2001.
The 2.6 billion euro loan, which expires on May 18, 2011 was priced at 54 basis points over German bunds to give a coupon on 5.35 percent.
Launching the paper were Alpha Bank, Goldman Sachs, National Bank of Greece, Schroder Salomon Smith Barney and UBS Warburg.
The new Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.41 percent.
The yield spread over German bunds was 55 basis points from 52 basis points under the old benchmark in the session before.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 945 million euros (about 322 billion drachmas) from 950 million euros (around 323 billion drachmas) in the trading day before.
Buy orders accounted for the total turnover.
Euro/dollar rate falls below 92 cents: The European Central Bank on Thursday set its reference foreign exchange rate for the euro/dollar rate at 91.46 cents, down from 92.94 cents the previous day, pushing the US dollar/drachma rate to 372.56 drachmas.
The ECB also set the euro/yen rate at 107.15 yen (3.18 drachmas), the euro/sterling at 63.04 pence (540.52 drachmas), the euro/Swiss franc rate at 1.5247 (223.48 drachmas) and the euro/Cyprus pound rate at 0.5780 (589.53 drachmas).
 Papantoniou calls bourse slump a "mystery"
BRUSSELS, 26/01/2001 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said that the bourse's long-term decline was a "mystery".
In an interview published on Thursday in Belgium's L' Echo newspaper, Papantoniou attributed the slump to "a bad set of economic circumstances", or perhaps because "we have not yet come to realize the good news."
Asked if he was likely to resign, as consistently rumored, the minister replied: "I'm fine where I am, but it's natural for the subject to be discussed as I'm the longest-serving minister in the post. I'm not eternal. I'll be leaving. But for the time being I'm staying."
 Piraeus Bank's chairman sees better days ahead for ASE
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)Mihalis Sallas, Piraeus Bank's chairman, said he saw better days ahead of the Athens bourse and Greek banks following the country's entry in the eurozone.
"The Athens bourse does not reflect the positive situation in the Greek economy. We will enter a new better course, as a member of the eurozone," Sallas said presenting the bank's results for 2000.
He predicted that Greek banks would have a better year in 2001 following a period of restructuring, mergers and takeovers in the previous two years.
Sallas said the domestic banking system was unfairly hit in 2000 by a series of "analysis and talk" over lower profitability.
Sallas said that Greek interest rates were fully competitive with European rates.
 Verelis meeting on Spata airport
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)Transport and communications minister Christos Verelis on Thursday met with the representatives of 15 agencies involved in the operation of Athens' new international airport at Spata.
Sources said later that a compatibility problem existed between the new air navigation systems to be operating at the Spata facility and existing ones, a problem for which solutions will be sought during a meeting next Thursday between Verelis and Civil Aviation Authority (YPA) chief Athanasios Tzoganis.
Reliable sources also said that national carrier Olympic Airways was ready to relocate to the new airport on March 1, with the exception of its heavy maintenance technical service, which they said did not affect OA's operations.
 Helexpo unveils results, new program
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)Helexpo SA on Thursday reported pre-tax profits of 1.0 billion drachmas and turnover of 5.0 billion drachmas in the period June 1999-December 2000.
Helexpo's chief executive officer, Chrysostomos Geroukis, presenting the company's results said that its turnover would exceed 7.0 billion drachmas and its pre-tax profits 1.5 billion drachmas in 2001.
Geroukis said Helexpo plans to expand its range of exhibitions with the organization of "Metallon", a metals trade fair, at the Athens Exhibition Center, May 9-13, and trade fairs on security systems, pharmaceuticals, special equipment for disabled people, and wine.
Helexpo will organize 16 exhibitions this year from 13 in 2000.
Geroukis said he expected a private investor who would buy a 30 percent equity stake in Helexpo, taking over the company's management as well, would maintain and expand even more Helexpo's exhibition program.
A deadline to submit technical bids in the tender was extended until February 12.
 Domestic banks show 228 pct profit jump in 1999
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)The country's 19 domestic banks posted a sharp rise in earnings before tax of 228 percent in 1999 against the previous year to total 1.139 trillion drachmas, the Union of Greek Banks said in its annual review.
The banks' total income was 2.016 trillion drachmas, up 52.2 percent, said the review, which was released on Thursday.
At the same time, the banking sector was currently in a transition phase with certain traditional forms of revenue from commissions, such as foreign exchange, sharply down.
Other forms of income had increased, including investment bank transactions, it said.
 Gov't calls for quality upgrade by tourism firms
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)Deputy Development Minister Alexandros Kalafatis on Thursday called on tourism sector companies to upgrade the quality of the products and services they provide.
Kalafatis was launching EXPRO 2001, a tourism trade fair in Athens, which lasts until January 29.
He said that in coming years the competitiveness of Greek tourism would depend more on quality and less on prices.
 Greece launches 10-year benchmark gov't bond
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)Greece this week issued a new 10-year benchmark government bond, the first since its entry into the euro zone on January 1, Alpha bank, which helped to launch the syndicated loan, said on Thursday.
The 2.6 billion euro loan, which expires on May 18, 2011 was priced at 54 basis points over German bunds to give a coupon on 5.35 percent, Alpha said in a statement.
Launching the paper with Alpha Bank were Goldman Sachs, National Bank of Greece, Schroder Salomon Smith Barney and UBS Warburg.
 Gov't issues circular on public works aiming for EU funding
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)The government on Thursday unveiled a circular specifying the conditions that public works must meet to be included in the upcoming Public Investments Program (PIP) for the upcoming fiscal year.
The circular emphasized that all proposals for projects aiming for funding via the Third Community Support Framework, the Cohesion Fund and other Community credit lines will be included in the PIP only if they are accompanied by a completed report listing technical specifications.
 Christmas retail sales lower than expected
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)The Christmas retail sales were lower than expected and significantly lower from the same period in 1999, a survey by the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce revealed on Thursday.
The survey said that even in cases where businesses reported a higher turnover in the Christmas season, the increase was small.
The majority of retail businesses said that Christmas sales were lower or stable compared with the previous year, with the clothing sector particularly hit.
The survey focused on clothing, footwear, gifts, small electrical appliances and other categories traditionally with increase activity in the Christmas season.
 Taxi rate hikes approved by finance ministry
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)Taxi rates will increase as of February 1, following approval of the hikes Thursday by the finance ministry.
As of next month, the rate per kilometer will rise to 80 drachmas from the current 76 dr..
Also, the surcharge for transport to and from airports will rise to 400 dr. from the present 300 dr.
In addition, the surcharge for transport to and from ports, railroad stations and KTEL intercity bus terminals will increase to 200 dr. from the current 150 dr.
The surcharge for each piece of luggage will also rise from the present 50 dr. to 100 dr.
The last rate hike was introduced on January 1 this year, when overnight taxi fares and inter-city bus ticket prices were increased to enable taxi and KTEL bus owners to meet rising fuel costs, in fulfillment of an earlier promise by the Finance Ministry. On January 1, the taxi overnight rate, in effect from midnight to 5:00 a.m., rose by 20 dr. per kilometer from 130 to 150 dr. per kilometer, the cost of the flag was raised to 250 dr. the rate per kilometer to 76 dr., and the non-driving services rose to 2,400 dr. per hour, while the prices of KTEL tickets rose by five (5) percent
The ministry at the time had also announced that a further increase in daytime taxi rates from 76 to 80 dr. per kilometer would enter into effect on Feb. 1.
Rate hikes are also expected to be announced at the end of January by the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, in order to adjust with the EU average rates.
 28 people to stand trial for 'Dystos' maritime accident
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)Twenty-eight individuals will be tried for the capsizing of a Greek-flagged dry bulk carrier in late 1996, a maritime accident that cost the life of 17 merchant seamen and three other individuals aboard the vessel.
Criminal proceedings first commenced in February 1998 against the Hellenic Shipping Registry and the AGET Herakles cement company, the owners of the ill-fated "Dystos".
Among others, defendants will face felony charges of falsifying seaworthiness certifications for the purpose of unlawfully deriving benefit, manslaughter and causing a shipwreck through negligence.
A Piraeus criminal court will hear the case, based on an 800-page indictment.
According to an initial report by four experts, the "Dystos" sank due to overloading, poor cargo loading, the presence of (metal) plating on the deck and at the stern, inadequate water-tightness of the hatchways, defective and illegal maintenance and inclement weather conditions.
The vessel overturned and capsized in rough seas off the large island of Evia, off central Greece, on Dec. 28, 1996 while sailing from Volos to Piraeus with a cargo of 5,300 tons of cement.
 Greek-American donates 750,000 dollars for creation of center for elderly people
Athens, 26/01/2001 (ANA)A Greek-American pharmaceutical industrialist has made a large financial donation for the creation of a center for the care of elderly people on the island of Lesvos.
Emmanuel Jaharis, 73, donated the sum of 750,000 dollars for the creation of the center in the village of Agia Paraskevi.
The mayor of the village, Christofis Hatziyiannis, said on Thursday that the village had a serious demographic problem and was in need of a center for the housing and care of elderly people.
 Cyprus government welcomes statements by EU Commissioner Verheugen
NICOSIA, 26/01/2001 (CNA/ANA)The Cyprus government has welcomed statements by top European Union Commissioner responsible for enlargement that Cyprus will become an EU member irrespective of a political settlement.
"The statements send a crystal clear message to many recipients, they clarify fully the political parameters of our accession course and point to those elements which render the EU a catalyst for the effort to solve the Cyprus question," government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said here on Thursday.
Gunter Verheugen said Wednesday in Brussels the Commission's position is that Cyprus should join the EU whether there is a solution or not, adding that the Greek parliament has said it would reject unanimously the accession of the first wave of candidate countries if Cyprus is not included in this group.
The EU Commissioner also said he regards wrong the position expressed by some members to recall the existence of the political problem in Cyprus and hint that this is an obstacle.
The EU decided in Helsinki in December 1999 that though a political settlement is desirable it is not a precondition for Cyprus' accession.
"Our course to Europe is difficult, there will be positive and some negative views," Papapetrou said on Thursday.
Cyprus started accession negotiations in March 1998 and has so far closed provisionally 17 out of 29 chapters.
 Britain says remains committed to UN process for Cyprus settlement
NICOSIA, 26/01/2001 (CNA/ANA)British High Commissioner in Nicosia Edward Clay has stressed London remains committed to a process the UN instigated in 1999 with the start of proximity talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides and believes this is the way forward leading to a settlement of the Cyprus question.
Speaking after a meeting here on Thursday with President Glafcos Clerides, Clay said Britain would continue to support UN Secretary General in his effort to carry the process forward and build on ideas Kofi Annan has presented the two sides.
Clay's position comes in the wake of steadfast views of the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash who has repeatedly said the proximity talks have served their purpose and come to an end. He now demands what he calls state-to-state talks in order to stay on track in the UN peace process.
"Part of our effort has been to persuade him (Denktash) that whatever he thinks, we remain committed to the process which the UN Secretary General launched 18 months ago with the support of the Security Council, the G8 and in that way the support of the whole international community," Clay said.
He stressed Britain wants this process "to continue and prosper and we believe that this is the way to achieve a settlement which will be in the interest of all Cypriots and of those closely involved with them, Turkey, Greece, the UK."
Asked what could happen if Denktash does not shift from his position, Clay said he would rather deal with one obstacle at a time "in the logical order" and added "all our creativity and energies are devoted to trying to help the process to prosper."
The High Commissioner said that statements by Annan are there to help the process go on, noting that some of them "have been uncomfortable for one side or the other but they are there and we need to build on those."
Annan made two statements, in September and in November, outlining his impressions of where the talks have got to and how he sees them proceeding.
"It is our job to support him in the effort to carry the process forward," Clay said.
Annan's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto was due to arrive here on Thursday evening in a bid to push the process forward.
 Cyprus government continues efforts for release of abducted Greek Cypriot
NICOSIA, 26/01/2001 (CNA/ANA)The Cyprus government continues its effort to secure the release of Greek Cypriot Panikos Tziakourmas, abducted by the Turkish occupation regime last December from within the territory of one of the two British bases on the island, but has not been informed as to London's next moves on this issue, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said here on Thursday.
He also described a reconstruction of the abduction by the British police in Dhekelia base, on the southeast, "very positive". British High Commissioner Edward Clay described the abduction "a very serious crime on British territory", adding that evidence directly relevant to the "charges" against Tziakourmas was made available to the defense lawyers.
Tziakourmas, a building contractor by profession, was taken by force on 13 December 2000 as he sat in his car waiting to collect Turkish Cypriot workmen to their workplace, as he used to do every day. He was led away and was later "detained" by the occupation regime, in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus, on "drug possession charges".
Wednesday's reconstruction by the British Bases showed beyond any reasonable doubt that he was abducted by force and that no evidence of any drug was found in his car.
"Our effort, primarily in the direction of Britain but also elsewhere, to exert all possible pressure leading to Tziakourmas' release, shall continue," Papapetrou told his daily press briefing.
Replying to questions, he said the government does not know how the British intend to move in the future in connection with this case.
"The SBA police are investigating a serious crime on British territory, they have established the nature of the crime but they do not know yet the perpetrators," Clay said, adding that investigations will go on.
Tziakourmas is being dragged before a so-called court in Turkish occupied Cyprus and is due to "appear" next week.
Clay said the SBA police are ready to cooperate with everybody involved in this case to ensure the "trial is properly conducted."
 Cyprus, Greece sign memorandum of cooperation in sports
NICOSIA, 26/01/2001 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus and Greece signed here on Thursday a memorandum of cooperation in the field of sports. Some 10,000 Cypriots could travel to Greece to work as volunteers for the 2004 Olympic Games.
The memorandum was signed by visiting Greek Deputy Minister of Culture in charge of sports George Floridis and Cyprus Sports Organization President Andreas Papacharalambus.
The agreement provides, among others, for the education of sports officials, participation of teams in sports events in the two countries and preparation of national teams for participation in international and regional sports events during the current year.
The two officials praised the signing of the agreement, saying it would contribute to the further strengthening of bonds in the field of sports between the two countries.
Floridis revealed that Cyprus could help Athens for hosting the 2004 Olympic Games with 10,000 volunteers "a number beyond any expectation...", he remarked.
Floridis and Cyprus Finance Minister Takis Klerides also signed on Thursday a bilateral agreement to regulate incomes in Cyprus from Greek pools.
During his stay in Cyprus the Greek official was received by President Glafcos Clerides and had meetings with Education and Culture Minister Ouranios Ioannides and political party leaders. He leaves on Friday.
 Cyprus ratifies International Convention on Combating Terrorism
NICOSIA, 26/01/2001 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus has ratified the International Convention on Combating Terrorism, adopted by the General Assembly on December 15, 1997.
Cyprus' Attache of the Permanent Mission of the Republic to the United Nations George Kasoulides on Wednesday tabled the instruments of ratification. Cyprus was amongst the first 20 countries to sign the Convention in the three months after its adoption by the General Assembly and one of the first to have ratified the Convention.