|Wednesday, 19 September 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-01-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM Simitis outlines country's European perspective and infrastructure works in Crete
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Friday outlined the country's European perspective and infrastructure works in Crete in an address to agency officials in the city of Hania, saying Greece is currently experiencing a new period.
Simitis said the effort to incorporate the Greek economy in the dynamic euro zone of the "12" was successful and appeared optimistic over the country's course in the 21st century. He referred to regional development and said that on January 1, 2001 Greece worthily achieved its full accession to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).
"As a result, favourable conditions for investments and speedier economic development were created and consolidated," he said.
Simitis also focused on the country's development strategy, the development vision and prospects for Crete, saying 600 billion drachmas were provided for the island over the 1994-1999 period and mentioning projects carried out in Crete.
He further said that during the third 2000-2006 fiscal period infrastructure and transport projects will be promoted to serve the needs of developing tourism and also commented on projects included in the 3rd Community Support Framework.
Simitis set out efforts being made to upgrade quality in the agricultural sector and announced the funding of the "Valsamiotis dam" with 9.5 billion drachmas and a series of actions concerning infrastructure for irrigation and water supply projects.
Regarding the island's energy issue, he appeared optimistic and said Crete will obtain energy reserves by 2006 also through utilising renewable sources of energy.
"A fundamental pursuit in planning our regional policy for Crete is upgrading the quality of life," Simitis said.
 U.S. Congressman meets with Greek FM, parliament president
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Greece is a major ally and friend of the United States that contributes to the stability of the region, U.S. Congressman Benjamin Gilman said on Friday following his meeting with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou in Athens.
Gilman, who is in Athens since Thursday on a three-day visit, heading a delegation of six U.S. Congressmen, discussed conditions in the region with Papandreou, placing emphasis on the Kosovo problem.
They also discussed bilateral issues concerning trade relations and cooperation on combatting crime, with a focus on narcotics.
Gilman, in his statements to the press, made special mention of terrorism, noting "it is an issue of major concern for us ... it is an international problem that is of concern to the international community and for this reason we must confront it in common".
On his part, Papandreou called Gilman "a very good friend of Greece who has contributed to the development of bilateral relations," adding that he briefed the U.S. delegation over Greece's positions on the aforementioned issues.
Earlier in the day, Gilman visited the Greek Parliament and met with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, where the same issues were raised and discussed.
Addressing Gilman, Kaklamanis said "it is not correct for the USA to be on the prosecutor's stand accusing Greece, or using terrorism to pressure Greece on a diplomatic or economic level, as is the case with the Olympic Games of 2004".
Gilman, on his part, said that he was very satisfied of the "honest" and "true" talks he had with Kaklamanis, giving assurances of the will of the representative bodies of both countries to strengthen bilateral relations.
 US Congressional delegation issues statement on results of meetings with Greek leaders
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)The U.S. Congressional delegation visiting Greece concluded a series of meetings with Greece's leadership on Friday, having held discussions on bilateral relations, economic and trade issues and terrorism.
The delegation headed by Congressman Benjamin A. Gilman, met with Foreign Minister George Papandreou, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis and Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.
Following the meetings the delegation issued a statement noting that with Papandreou and Karamanlis they "discussed their desire that Greece and Turkey will make progress toward more normal relations. This effort has the full support of the American people and government".
"The delegation was also impressed by the significant progress made in preparation for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The U.S. Government strongly supports Greece in hosting the Olympic Games, a historic moment for the Olympic movement," the statement said.
"However, the Congressional delegation was surprised and disappointed by Speaker (i.e. Parliament President) Kaklamanis' statement following their meeting. The delegation had a frank and private exchange of views with the Speaker on the issue of terrorism, which is a concern of all countries ... the United States has long supported the efforts of the Greek government to fight terrorism," it added.
"Mr. Kaklamanis' statement does not reflect the spirit of coo-peration between our governments. It is solely a Greek respon-sibility to make arrests and conviction ... We support what the Greek people also desire - justice for those who have been killed in terrorism attacks. The United States had had five of its own Embassy employees assassinated, more than one hundred wounded in the last quarter century," the statement concluded.
 Government says US Congress representatives visiting Greece played positive role in improvement of Greek-US relations
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Government sources on Friday, commenting on the issue created after Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis met with a US Congressional delegation headed by Benjamin Gilman, said "the person of the Parliament President is respectable and has his distinct role in our political life."
According to the same sources, the Greek government "has developed a steadfast policy of good and fruitful cooperation with the US on all issues of mutual concern all these years". "The representatives of the US Congress who are visiting Greece have played a positive political role in the improvement of relations between Greece and the US, a role which we recognise," the same sources underlined.
 President Stephanopoulos visits Syracuse and Catania during tour of Italy
ROME, 27/01/2001 (ANA - L. Hadzikyriakos)President Kostis Stephanopoulos, after the moving and enthusiastic welcome he received in the Greek-speaking vil-lages of Apulia on Thursday, arrived in Catania, Sicily, on Friday night on the last stage of his tour of Italy.
He visited Syracuse, located 60 kilometres away from Catania, as an ordinary tourist on Friday morning. The city's prefect and mayor waited for him there to take him to Saint Sebastian Cathedral which has been built in the ancient temple of Athena. The city, one of the first colonies of ancient Greece, bears strong traces of the Greek civilisation.
Stephanopoulos showed great interest and visited the city's archaeological museum in which findings of the paleolithic era and of the Greek civilisation are on display.
He also visited the ancient theatre in Syracuse, one of the most beautiful to be found in Italy.
Stephanopoulos, visibly moved by the strong presence of the ancient Greek civilisation, congratulated local officials for efforts they have made to preserve these treasures.
 Europe initiated major changes with small steps, FM Papandreou says
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Friday addressed a two-day conference on the European Union Nice Summit results, saying that the Union "has initiated major changes with small steps".
The conference organised by the Centre of European Constitutional Law is the first of its kind so soon after the Summit to discuss issues related to the delineation of the responsibilities between the Union and the member-states, the status of the Fundamental Human Rights Charter, the role of the National Parliaments in the European integration and the proposal by Germany's foreign minister for a European federal future.
"There is a need for political will by everyone, without of course expecting miracles to take place in the immediate future toward a totally new world, what is needed is the basis for the development of Europe in a union," Papandreou said.
"The Nice agreement was the basic stopover before the historic necessity for an enlarged European Union. In 2003 we will be presiding over the EU, just before the intergovernmental conference of 2004, thus by fact we will be at a very important phase for many major issues," he said.
 FM Papandreou to leave for Davos on Saturday to attend Balkan reconstruction meeting
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou will leave for Davos, Switzerland, on Saturday morning and will be holding talks with Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz on Greek-Turkish relations and Turkey's relations with the European Union in the evening.
Yilmaz is responsible for his country's relations with the EU. On the sidelines of the international economic forum, Papandre-ou will be meeting Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa and former prime minister and current regional development minister of Israel Shimon Peres.
Papandreou will be attending a round table discussion on Balkan reconstruction on Saturday, together with the Presidents of Yugoslavia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Bulgaria and Croatia Kostunica, Trajkovsky, Stoyianov and Mesic respectively, as well as Slovenian Prime Minister Drnovsek.
He will leave for Stockholm on Sunday afternoon to attend the international forum against racism, while on Monday morning Papandreou will meet his Swedish counterpart and EU Council of Ministers' President Anna Lindt.
 No Greek KFOR troopers to remain in Kosovo against their will
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Friday said that none of the Greek troops in the KFOR peacekeeping force would remain in Kosovo against their will.
Responding to a relevant question in Parliament tabled by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Tsohatzopoulos said "None of the members of the Greek military mission in Kosovo, would remain there against their will".
He also denied accusation leveled by main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy Dora Bakoyianni regarding Greece's stance during the bombings in that region. He said that during that time, before the beginning of the bombings he insisted on the need for a political resolution of the crisis.
 Balkan crisis has caused environmental catastrophe, experts claim
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Greek and foreign scientists expressed their grave concern over the repercussions to the environment due to the Balkan crisis at a one-day meeting held at the Zappeion Hall on Friday, organised by the non-governmental organisation "Doctors of the World".
A committee of experts established by the United Nations environment office said that following recent research in Yugoslavia, the country has sustained severe environmental catastrophe from toxic substances and petrochemicals from the bombardments.
According to researchers, the 2,000 flights and bombardments over a period of 78 days reduced the ozone in the atmosphere with serious repercussions for the health of the population. According to Theofilos Rozemburg, president of "Doctors of the World", the environmental catastrophe is enormous and the repercussions for the population is and will be in the future unpleasant, due to the combination of radiation and chemical toxic substances.
With regard to the depleted uranium and the likely consequences from its use, the "Doctors of the World" proposed the setting up of a scientific committee, which would consist of independent experts, so as to conduct studies on the conflicting views concerning the danger of infection.
 Police raid offices of Human Rights Union in Ankara
Ankara, 27/01/2001 (ANA - A. Ambatzis)Security forces carried out an extensive search of the Human Rights Union's head office in Ankara on Thursday, according to a report by its President Husnu Odul. It was conducted with a court decision and involved a big force of security forces.
Police raided the office following a misunderstanding created by a Turkish Anatolian news agency report referring to statements by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou on the funding of Greek non-governmental organisations.
Odul said the police confiscated many of the organisation's documents and computers, adding this was another example of pressure exerted on the Human Rights Union in Turkey.
"A search based on a mistaken report being carried out is the result of pressure being exercised by the state on the Human Rights Union. Pressure which has increased recently," he said.
Odul explained that on January 19 the Turkish Anatolian news agency conveyed a report from Athens by the Athens News Agency (ANA) which referred to the reply Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou gave to a relevant question in Parliament on the funding of non-governmental organisations in Greece.
The Turkish news agency, translating the relevant news item, included the Turkish Human Rights Union among the organisations funded without this being mentioned either in the ANA's report or in the Greek foreign minister's statements.
Odul said his organisation had sent the ANA's report to the Turkish news agency, but it failed to do the necessary correction.
On the next day, January 20, the Turkish news agency reported a statement by Foreign Ministry spokesman Panayiotis Beglitis, who clarified what was self-evident. Namely, that it was a question of Greek non-governmental organisations.
Odul further said that his organisation "over the 15 years it has been active has not received funding from any government, neither from the Greek government nor from Greek non-governmental organisations."
Five offices of the organisation, which is being accused of violating the law by supporting the imprisoned hunger strikers, have been closed since the end of November.
The "Watch for the protection of human rights defenders", with which the Turkish Human Rights Union is associated, denounced the police raid in an announcement it issued in Geneva and Paris. The Watch called on the Turkish government to stop harassment and attacks against this organisation immediately and requested from the European Union "to show the greatest possible determination towards Turkey, which is a candidate country for European Union accession."
 Athens, Tirana discuss efforts to combat organised crime
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)The public order ministers from Greece and Albania met at a border post on Friday for talks focusing squarely on the combating of organised crime, as Greek authorities over the past decade have intensified efforts to stem the flow of drugs, weapons and illegal immigrants into the country from its northwest frontier.
An upcoming meeting between the public order ministers from Albania, Greece and Italy is set to take place, meanwhile, in Tirana is expected to lay the foundations for the establishment of a regional law enforcement centre in the town of Vlore. On Friday, Greek minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis and his Albania counterpart Ilir Gioni discussed efforts at interdicting the cultivation and distribution of cannabis in Albania. On his part, Chrysohoidis said Athens will continue to offer assistance to Albania's police force, especially to border units, while noting that high-ranking contacts and cooperation between the two countries has led to several significant raids by authorities in the neighbouring country. Gioni said Tirana is committed to combating organised crime and thanked Athens for its support.
 Culture minister says projects for Cultural Capital to be carried out at the responsibility of existing agencies
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos attended a meeting of local agencies in Patras on Friday and outlined the mi-nistry's positions on the Cultural Capital of 2006, which will be Patras, saying projects will be carried out at the responsibility of existing agencies (namely, the ministry, the regional service and the prefecture) according to the jurisdiction of each.
He said the part concerning events and other cultural activities will be managed by a civil non-profit company which will be created and in which all agencies will be participating.
Venizelos, speaking to reporters on Friday night, linked the Cultural Capital to the 2004 Olympic Games since Patras is one of the four Olympic cities (Thessaloniki, Volos and Irakleio) and said extensive credits will be provided through the 3rd Community Support Framework for the implementation of infrastructure works.
 Karamanlis expresses need for women to play a more active role in supporting democracy
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Main opposition new Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis, addressing a conference on Friday on the theme "The role of women in supporting democracy in southeastern Europe and the course towards the European Union", referred to the war in Yugoslavia, stressing that the ordeal in the Balkans is continuing, as it is not only the ecological catastrophe or the dangers of the depleted uranium but also the issue of the borders which remain fluid.
The conference was organised by the European Women's Union, the Constantine Karamanlis Democracy Institute and the ND Eurodeputies' group.
Montenegro, Karamanlis said, is flirting with the idea of secession, while Kosovo has essentially become self-autonomous and tendencies of destabilisation is being observed.
The ND leader noted that the Balkan countries should be helped so as to follow the European acquis communautaire and in the medium-term to join the European Union.
He said that the Balkans remain "a closed army camp", some-thing which entails risks for Greece, and referred to "the initiative for democracy in the western Balkans". Referring to women, Karamanlis said that their participation in the procedure of decision-taking remains restricted and that legislation does not always follow developments, as the combination of carrier and family remains an inbalance.
 U.S. Congressmen visit Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch
ISTANBUL, 27/01/2001 (ANA- A. Kourkoulas)A delegation of U.S. Congressmen on Friday visited Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos at his seat in the Phanar district of the city. Congressman Bill Young headed the delegation which is in Turkey visiting the US bases there, but requested and were granted an audience by Orthodoxy's prelate.
Also, the mayor of Plovdiv, Bulgaria Yiannis Tsomakov was received by the Patriarch and invited him to visit the city during celebrations of the city's Byzantine heritage, when it was called "Phillipoupoli".
 World Council of Hellenes Abroad offers humanistic aid to Greek communities in Kazakhstan
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)The World Council of Hellenese Abroad (SAE), following Georgia and Ukraine, is also extending its humanistic activities to the Greek communities in Kazakhstan.
A mission departed from Thessaloniki on Friday on a visit to the Greek community in the village of Panfilov, in Kazakhstan's region of Almati, to offer humanistic aid worth 35 million drachmas. The aid, consisting of 1,000 blankets and tables, was loaded aboard a cargo ship in Thessaloniki port early on Friday afternoon. The blankets were donated by the Health Ministry and the tables by the international organisation HORINET.
The SAE plans over the next few months to organise medical centres in regions where there are communities with citizens of Greek origin, in Armenia, Uzbekistan and Albania.
 Former ND leader says National Radio and TV Council fails to take initiatives on "phenomena of anarchy"
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)National Radio and TV Council (ERS) President Vassilis Lam-bridis on Friday said "the Control and Transparency Department operated for the first time in September 2000 since the ERS was created and has already started to produce results."
He was replying in a letter to a strong-worded letter addressed to him on Thursday by former main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert who had said the ERS is not taking initiatives for "phenomena of anarchy which have led to lawlessness, vested interests and mutual blackmailing."
Responding to Evert's remark that the ERS "is obliged to implement the law in every direction and facilitate the vindication of a cleanup, transparency and conditions of substantive democracy", Lambridis said the imposition of a fine on the Tiletypos company for 100 million drachmas for violation of article 1 of law 2328/95 "is indeed taking place for the first time", adding that the decision is due purely to the Council and not to intervention by a public prosecutor.
 Synaspismos leader calls for election system changes before constitutional revision
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)The leader of the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) on Friday reiterated his small party's standing request that the simple proportional election system - which favours smaller parties' representation in Parliament - be legislated before an upcoming constitutional revision, and during a meeting with the interior minister.
Synaspismos President Nikos Constantopoulos emphasised, in his meeting with Minister Vasso Papandreou, that no changes in the election system and laws should occur after constitutional revision.
 Simitis cites 'printing error' in misunderstanding over tax cuts
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)The prime minister told Parliament on Friday that a cut in tax brackets, announced by the government last year, will not cover fiscal 2000 but rather incomes earned in the current year, attributing the misunderstanding to a "printing error" in an introduction to the 2001 budget.
PM Costas Simitis' clarification came in response to a tabled question and vehement criticism by one-time New Democracy president Miltiades Evert.
In his statements, Simitis said the national economy minister unveiled the government's tax cuts for the next few years in October 2000, saying tax breaks will commence for 2001 incomes (i.e. 2002's income tax statement).
He pointed to the "printing error" in the introduction, but said debates in Parliament were held based on the correct figures.
Additionally, Simitis criticised Evert for his tabling of the question, saying the prime minister's hour in Parliament should deal only with "primary issues" and "general developments", not printing mistakes.
"I read the ministers' speeches very carefully and nowhere is there any mention of a 'typo', whereas debates took place based on the budget's introduction," Evert charged, adding:
"The impression given to the people was that a reduction in tax brackets would commence from 2000-2001..."
 Foreign banks in Greece seen expanding this year
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Foreign banks operating in Greece are set to expand their retail business in 2001, maintaining a trend seen in the previous year, the Union of Greek Banks said.
In an annual review released this week, the union said that Citibank aimed to expand its network to 80 branches and Bank of Cyprus to 120 branches over the next three years. Also expanding are ABN Amro and HSBC.
In addition, Hellenic Bank of Cyprus, which launched operations in Greece in 1998 with one branch, plans to expand its network to 25 branches, also over the next three years, the review said.
 Carmakers bid in Olympics sponsor tender, airlines stay out
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Six global car manufacturing industries bid in an international tender held by the organisers of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games to find a sponsor in the sector.
The bidders were Mercedes, BMW, Peugeot, General Motors-Opel, Toyota and Hyundai.
In a separate tender for airlines, only national carrier Olympic Airways submitted a bid.
 HAI signs F-1 maintenance contract with French Airforce
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)The Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) on Friday signed a contract with the French Airforce to perform a major main-tenance and repair o eight (8) Mirage F-1 aircraft belonging to the French Airforce.
The contract, which runs through 2003, comes under a coope-ration agreement on military aircraft support between the Greek and French defence ministries.
The first of the eight jetfighters will arrive at HAI's facilities in early February.
"This significant success is mainly the result of HAI's successful performance of the same kind of works on one French Air Force aircraft of the same type in 1999 and is an additional recognition of the fact that the company has established itself on the world market for its high technological capabilities and high competitiveness," a HAI announcement said.
 Minister: freeing passenger shipping will aid market
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis said on Friday that the upcoming liberalization of the passenger shipping market will aid modernization of the country's fleet and revitalization of the market. Deregulation, in line with European Union rules, will also create jobs, Papoutsis told an opening ceremony for the Xenia tourism trade fair in the port city of Piraeus.
 Telestet sign cooperation deal with Antenna TV
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Telestet Hellas, a Greek mobile operator, on Friday announced a cooperation deal with Antenna TV envisaging the supply of wireless information services.
Under the deal, ANT1 Internet, a subsidiary of Antenna TV, will provide information services through Telestet's Online WAP and wireless messages. These information will include news, sports, financial services, weather report, games and horoscope.
Telestet's chief executive Roberto Rovera noted that mobile telephony and the media would be the dominant medium of the new economy, taking over from traditional newspapers and magazines. Rovera said the deal with Antenna TV was another proof of Telestet's commitment to forge strong alliances in the Greek market.
 Creta Plastics reports improved results
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Creta Plastics on Friday reported that its turnover totaled 17 billion drachmas (49.889 million euros) last year from 13.5 billion drachmas (39.618 mln euros) in 1999, while net profits reached 2.05 billion drachmas (6.016 mln euros), up from 1.9 billion (5.575 mln) over the same period.
The company expects this year's results to improve further following completion of two new takeover deals abroad, of high strategic importance.
Creta Plastics is also in the process of obtaining a license for the creation of a wind power park in eastern Crete.
The company has hired Deloitte & Touche to draft a new activity based costing system and to upgrade its internal monitoring system. The project is expected to be completed in the first half of 2001. A company statement said that its main shareholders have not lowered their stake holdings since the company's listing on the Athens bourse, but on the contrary they have increased their holdings to around 87 percent.
 Perseus Health Care in merger deal with Crete Euromedica
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Perseus Health Care (former Mosholios Chemicals SA) on Friday announced a merger deal with Crete Euromedica, a newly set-up company member of Axon Holdings Group operating four diagnostics centers, a maternity clinic and a general clinic in the island of Crete.
Perseus Health Care was renamed from Mosholios Chemicals SA last July and Athenian Capital Holdings is the main shareholder.
Under the merger deal, Crete Euromedica will build one more diagnostics center and one general clinic in Crete.
Perseus Health Care reported turnover of 1.4 billion drachmas and profits of 100 million drachmas last year.
 Elgeka, Everest in joint venture in Romania
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Elgeka SA and Everest, two Greek listed companies, on Friday announced the creation of a joint venture company Everest Franchising Srl to expand Everest activities in Romania.
The new company, owned to Everhold Cyprus Ltd (a subsidiary of Everest) by 51 percent and to Elgeka Cyprus (a subsidiary of Elgeka) by 49 percent, will be based in Bucharest, Romania.
Elgeka recently acquired a 55 percent equity stake in Romanian Network Marketing SRL.
 Spyrou Farm to invest in farm research
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Spyrou Farm plans to increase investment in farm research with the creation of a subsidiary company, the first ever in Greece, to make farm analysis and cargo certification.
A company statement said research was an important value added factor for its future. Spyrou Farm has already acquired two research and biotechnology firms in California, Nova Genetics and Magnum Genetics, whose products are expected to be tested in the Greek and the eastern Mediterranean area this year.
The company expects its 2000 turnover to reach 10 billion drachmas and its profits to total 3.0 billion drachmas.
Spyrou Farm also plans its transformation into a holding company.
 Pairis ABEE shareholders approve share capital increase plan
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Pairis ABEE shareholders on Friday approved, for the fifth time, a share capital increase plan with a public offering and cash payment, and the transfer of its stocks from the parallel to the main market of the Athens Stock Exchange.
Under the plan, the company will issue 500,000 new stocks at a price to be set by ASE and the underwriter of the deal just before the public offering.
 Karamanlis says gov't responsible for bourse's year-long slide
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis on Friday called for the resignation of the national economy minister, amid a year-long free-fall on the Athens Stock Exchange.
In response, the government spokesman reiterated that the bourse is an "independent institution", whereas the fewer politicians that involve themselves with the stock market the better for investors and the bourse.
Karamanlis on Friday sharply criticized both the PASOK government and the prime minister for the bourse's poor performance.
He also called on the government to "revise the sum total of its economic policy and to proceed, at long last, with structural changes in the economy."
Equity prices ended on the last trading session of the week on a positive note. The general index ended 0.12 percent higher at 3,071.83 points, off the day's highs of 3,116.31 points, for a net loss of 2.58 percent in the week. Turnover was 136.37 million euros, or 46.467 billion drachmas.
 Greek stocks stable at the end of the week
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Equity prices ended the last trading session of the week with a positive tone, leading several analysts to predictions of a recovery in the market on the precondition that daily turnover stabilized around 60-70 billion drachmas.
Share prices soared initially but fell back later in the session after a wave of early profit taking, that hit the construction sector in particular.
The general index ended 0.12 percent higher at 3,071.83 points, off the day's highs of 3,116.31 points, for a net loss of 2.58 percent in the week. Turnover was 136.37 million euros, or 46.467 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.05 percent up at 1,799.33 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index rose 0.17 percent to 319.90 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 0.26 percent higher at 250.99 points.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 188 to 143 with another 25 issues unchanged.
Alpha Bank, Hellenic Telecoms, Hellenic Bottling, Aktor and National Bank were the most heavily traded stocks.
 Equity futures end lower, roughly tracking Athens bourse
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Friday, roughly in line with the bourse indices on which they are based, traders said.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 0.05 percent up, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 0.03 percent higher. Turnover was 53.9 million euros on 7,730 contracts traded, the dealers said.
 Bond prices end mixed in heavy trade
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Friday finished mixed in heavy trade with interest focusing on 10-year paper, dealers said.
The new Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.39 percent from 5.41 percent a day earlier.
The yield spread over German bunds was 54 basis points from 55 basis points in the session before.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totaled 870 million euros (around 297 billion drachmas) from 945 million euros (about 322 billion drachmas) in the trading day before.
Buy orders accounted for around half of total turnover.
 Euro/dollar rate above 92 cents
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)The European Central Bank on Friday set its reference rate on the euro/dollar rate at 92.28 cents, up from 91.94 cents the previous day, pushing the US dollar/drachma rate to 369.25 drachmas.
The ECB also set the euro/yen rate at 107.69 yen (3.16 drachmas), the euro/sterling at 63.15 pence (539.58 drachmas), the euro/Swiss franc rate at 1.5278 francs (223.03 drachmas) and the euro/Cyprus pound rate at 0.5783 (589.22 drachmas).
 Mild earthquake jolts Patras, seismologists reassuring
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)A mild earthquake measuring 4.1 on the open-ended Richter scale jolted the western port city of Patras early Friday, but no damages were immediately reported and seismologists were reassuring.
The quake, which struck at 5:35 a.m. with its epicenter in the sea region between Rio and Antirrio, jolted the city of Patras and its northern suburbs, and was also felt in the Nafpaktias region.
The tremor was "part of normal seismic activity in the Patras Gulf, which is a seismic area", Ioannis Baskoutas, a seismologist at the Athens Geodynamics Institute, told ANA. Meanwhile, the Anti-Seismic Protection Organization (OASP) said an earthquake drill scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Sunday in the wider region of Martino, in Atalanti, was a "routine exercise".
OASP said the drill, which would be conducted on the basis of seven scenarios and was being jointly organized with the General Secretariat for Civil Protection, would include the participation of EMAK emergency assistance and EKAB ambulance service units.
Seismologists-researchers from Greece, Uppsala (Sweden) and France recently concluded scientific studies in the wider Atalanti region, measuring the geo-electrical structure of an old rift there in an effort to record the physical properties of the ground. Seismologist Gerassimos Houliaras of the Athens Geodynamics Institute took part in the study.
The wider Atalanti region had produced a 7 Richter earthquake in 1894, killing 255 people.
 Major cocaine haul by SDOE
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)The SDOE financial police have confiscated more than 30 kilos of heroin originating in Chile, and one man has been arrested, police announced Friday.
They said 30.4 kilograms of cocaine, packaged in 39 packets placed in aluminum cylinders, had been sent from Santiago, Chile on January 19 and arrived at Athens Airport on January 22.
Police said that, according to the loading documents, the recipient was listed as a man identified as Haralambos Karavas. Karavas, 30, had already been arrested a few days earlier after SDOE confiscated another 617 grams of cocaine on January 18, police said.
 Two injured in hand grenade explosion
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Two people were injured late Thursday when a hand-grenade tied to a motorcycle exploded in the Ilion residential suburb of Athens, police said.
They said the hand grenade, wired to the back tire of a motorcycle owned by 23-year-old Ioannis Marlantis, exploded when Marlantis' brother Stasinos, 25, tried to move the motorcycle to park his car.
Stasinos Marlantis' friends George Kouromichelakis, 25, and Georgia Karanika, who had just gotten out of the car, where wounded lightly in the hands and legs. They were taken to Evangelismos Hospital in central Athens for treatment.
The explosion also damaged a car parked nearby. Athens Security police were investigating the incident.
 Five arrested on antiquities charges
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)Five people, including a Hungarian woman, have been arrested in Nafplio on charges of antiquities smuggling, police said Friday.
They said Maria Sintrikou 23, of Argolis was arrested late Thursday in Nafplio when traffic police, accompanied by security police, found a stele from a priceless tomb dating to the 1st century BC hidden in her car.
Nafplio resident George Voriatzidis and a Hungarian woman, whose identity was not released, who were riding in Sintrikou's car, were also arrested.
Police later arrested another Nafplio resident, Sophia Tosca, and Aristidis Tsirikos, of Argolis following questioning of the first three suspects and after five undated ancient clay vases were found in Tsirikos' home.
The vases will be examined by the Archaeological Service. The five detainees, who refused to reveal to police how the antiquities came into their possession, were taken before a public prosecutor, but no details have been released.
 Ex-policeman arrested on armed robbery charge
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)A cashiered police officer was arrested on armed robbery charges Thursday evening in relation to 40-million-drach-mas heist at Athens' central fruit market.
Police said three masked gunmen robbed a fruit vendors' association employee of the money at the market, in the industrial district of Renti, before fleeing on foot.
One-time officer Konstantinos Doufas, 40, was later apprehended a few blocks from where the incident took place, while a weapon police said he allegedly used in the robbery was located in a vacant lot.
A manhunt is underway for two suspects, while Doufas is expected to be led before a prosecutor on Friday.
 Court upholds conviction in Swiss national's murder
Athens, 27/01/2001 (ANA)The life in prison sentence of an Athens man, who killed his 26-year-old Swiss girlfriend in 1994 while in Switzerland, was upheld on Friday by an appellate court.
The court upheld the first instance conviction of Spyros Kavadias, 45, and his life sentence, recognizing no extenuating circumstances in his behalf.
 Greek still third most popular language in Australia
MELBOURNE, 27/01/2001(ANA-S. Hatzimanolis)Despite losing ground in recent years Greek continued to be the third most popular language in Australia, according to the country's statistical service.
Specifically, around 320,000 (1.6 percent) Australians speak Greek at home, third behind a 2.3-percent mark for Italian-speakers.
Additionally, some 15 percent of Australia's population of 20 million doesn't speak English -- the nation's official language -- at home.
According to the same figures, the majority of Greek immigrants (approximately 67,000) to the country arrived between 1965-69, or 9.3 percent of the newcomers.
In an unrelated development, the Pan-Australian Federation of Cypriot Communities will hold its annual conference over the weekend in Melbourne.
 President Clerides makes clear Greek Cypriots will not accept change in UN procedures for Cyprus settlement
NICOSIA, 27/01/2001 (CNA/ANA)President Glafcos Clerides made it abundantly clear to the UN chief's special adviser for Cyprus that the Greek Cypriot side will not agree to a change in the procedure followed by the UN since December 1999, aiming at reaching a comprehensive settlement on the island.
Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou told reporters after President Clerides' nearly two-hour long meeting with De Soto on Friday, that the resident underlined the need for Kofi Annan to set a date for the continuation of the proximity talks and if any of the two sides does not respond then he should inform the Security Council accordingly.
Both Papapetrou and Alvaro de Soto told the press that no proposal for a change in the format of the talks was discussed at the Presidential Palace meeting.
De Soto described the meeting as "very good" and said he expects to meet the president again on Monday. On Sunday he will be meeting Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. Asked by the press on a possible change in the procedure he has been following, as demanded by Denktash, the UN envoy said: "I bring no proposal to that effect." Asked on the same issue, the government spokesman said "Mr de Soto did not make any such proposal to the President nor did he insinuate a change in the procedure."
"It has been made clear by the President of the Republic that there can be no change in the process and the procedure followed vis-à-vis the efforts for the solution of the Cyprus problem," he added.
Papapetrou explained that "what is underway are the proximity talks and there is a need for the continuation of these talks." He said President Clerides reiterated to the UN envoy that the Greek Cypriot is also ready for proximity talks or even face-to-face talks for a settlement.
"It has also been stressed by President Clerides that the Secretary General must fix a date for these talks to be continued," Papapetrou added, noting the Greek Cypriot side expects the separate meetings to continue within a "reasonable" time-table.
Asked if de Soto has brought any proposals, he replied "no proposals at all."
He said the meeting was about "today's phase of the Cyprus problem and the efforts for the continuation of the proximity talks" and a "full reviewing of the situation and the parameters of the whole problem have been examined and views were exchanged."
Replying to a question by a Turkish Cypriot journalist on what the Greek Cypriot side will do if Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash insists on his refusal to participate in proximity talks, Papapetrou clarified that "the Greek Cypriot side and President Clerides do not aim at putting Mr. Denktash or Turkey into the corner and are punished because they do not cooperate."
"What the Greek Cypriot side really wants," he added, "is that we continue the effort that started and build up the necessary political will for the necessary compromise to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem."
He added however that if Denktash and Turkey continue to be negative and avoid the negotiating table, "then we are of the opinion that the Secretary General has the obligation to report to the Security Council and describe the real facts."
On his arrival on Thursday night de Soto said he will listen to all concerned about the conduct of the Secretary General's good offices mission over the next few months before he reports back to Kofi Annan in order to decide how to proceed with the UN Cyprus peace process.
He also said he sees no reason to divulge at this stage what the UN are going to propose, as he would first like to hear from all sides, noting that one side has expressed some misgivings about the direction of the talks.
The UN was due to have chaired another round of talks at the end of January in Geneva, but Denktash is refusing to participate supporting that the proximity talks have served their purpose and have come to an end.
He is also demanding the recognition of his illegal regime in the areas of Cyprus occupied by Turkey since 1974.
 Cyprus, Czech Republic hope to be part of first group to join EU
NICOSIA, 27/01/2001 (CNA/ANA)The Czech Republic and Cyprus, cooperating closely in their accession course for membership of the European Union (EU), hope to be part of the first group of countries to join the Union, Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Palous said here on Friday.
Speaking after official talks at the Foreign Ministry, he also expressed support for a just settlement of the Cyprus problem and said UN resolutions are the basis for such a settlement.
"We believe that the course towards EU accession and the fact that our two countries will soon belong to the EU can contribute towards a positive outcome in the Cyprus question," Palous said.
Expressing full satisfaction with the talks and his meetings on the island, he said "our countries have a lot in common, both are candidates for EU accession, we back one another and we hope to be among the first to join."
The government of the Czech Republic, he said, supports Cyprus' effort to find a just settlement of the Cyprus question, adding that UN and Security Council resolutions are "very reasonable and form the basis for a just settlement."
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
In his remarks after the talks, Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Ministry Ambassador Michalis Attalides said talks covered bilateral relations and cooperation on the EU accession course.
"We explained where we stand today as far as our efforts to solve the Cyprus problem are concerned and the obstacles we face because of the increasing intransigence of the Turkish side," Attalides said.
On bilateral ties, he said "we expressed our desire to continue to work to facilitate and enhance our relations."
Earlier on Friday, Palous, who is accompanied by the Czech Ambassador in Nicosia Vera Jerabkova, was received by President Glafcos Clerides and had a meeting with House President Spyros Kyprianou.
 British official says unity of Cyprus not a precondition for EU membership
NICOSIA, 27/01/2001 (CNA/ANA)The unity of Cyprus is not a precondition of membership of the European Union, Britain's Minister of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Keith Vaz has said, pointing out that the countries involved in that issue are aware of this position.
Answering a question on Cyprus' accession course to the EU, put forward by MP Sir David Madel in the House of Commons, Vaz said Britain is "in complete agreement with the talks that are going on", noting that UN-led proximity talks on Cyprus "are important".
He said Britain "would prefer a united island to join" the EU, but pointed out "that unity is not a precondition of membership", adding that "all countries involved in that issue are aware of the position".
The British official pledged that his country "shall continue to do everything that we possibly can to accept and follow the statement of the Prime Minister in December 1998, when he made it clear that he wanted to see matters resolved". Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of the island's territory.