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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-02-07

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM Simitis: Turkey's Cyprus stance crucial for Greek-Turkish relations
  • [02] Greek Washington embassy official says 2004 Athens Olympiad will be unique sports and cultural celebration
  • [03] Avramopoulos rules out political alliances, Hytiris accuses Athens Mayor of pandering to TV
  • [04] Spokesman comments on former king's statements to 'El Pais'
  • [05] Siemens systems for new Greek subs announced
  • [06] European Commission to present report on EU member-states' economic and social performances
  • [07] Culture minister briefs Evert on 2004 Olympics preparations
  • [08] Greek Euro-MP asks Euro-Parliament to condemn Hizbollah kidnapping
  • [09] Greece welcomes Lockerbie case verdict
  • [10] Three Greek writers to be presented at Harvard University
  • [11] IOC delegation in Athens for regular check of 2004 Olympiad projects
  • [12] Greek, Swiss culture ministers meet in Athens
  • [13] Human Rights Watch says Greek immigration bill violates migrants' rights
  • [14] National economy minister says government has undertaken new initiative on issue of interest charged on overdue loans
  • [15] Most share cap funds invested, bourse says
  • [16] Greek stocks rebound strongly on ASE
  • [17] Foreign debt amounts to 24.2 percent of total as at 31-12-2000
  • [18] Microsoft's No.2 speaks in Athens on Thursday
  • [19] Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry to organize business delegation to Belgrade on February 27-28
  • [20] Business delegation from island of Taiwan in Greece next week
  • [21] Piraeus Harbor Organization unveils ambitious three-year investment program
  • [22] Greek government seeks professions' deregulation
  • [23] EU seeks return of farming cash from Greece
  • [24] Thessaloniki hosts 2nd International Wine Competition
  • [25] Minister to open world cleaning materials trade fair
  • [26] Greek animal feed sector becoming saturated, survey says
  • [27] First series of test flights at Spata airport completed
  • [28] Names of ELPIDA award winners announced by the society's president
  • [29] Seven former Thessaloniki cultural capital officials acquitted
  • [30] Greenpeace protests material used in Attiki Odos construction
  • [31] Agriculture minister says risk of spongiform encephalopathy in local meat production is very low
  • [32] Cyprus foreign minister leaves for visits to Jordan and Greece

  • [01] PM Simitis: Turkey's Cyprus stance crucial for Greek-Turkish relations

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    Turkey's stance on the Cyprus issue was of decisive importance to Greek-Turkish relations and their progress, Greek prime minister Costas Simitis reiterated Tuesday at a press conference in New Delhi where he is currently on an official visit.

    Simitis said that Greece had taken numerous initiatives for the improvement of Greek-Turkish relations, adding that Turkey's upgrading, as an EU candidate was also a Greek initiative.

    "We await from Turkey to take the proper steps," Simitis said, stressing that the Cyprus problem "remains a very important issue for Greek-Turkish relations".

    Simitis also referred to the "earthquake diplomacy" that developed between Greece and Turkey after they rushed to each other's assistance following killer earthquakes in the two countries in 1999, noting that earthquake diplomacy could bear fruit due to the very positive climate that developed during that period.

    "When an earthquake occurs, people are hit, and these people cause sympathy. When an earthquake occurs, it does not matter if you live in one country or another," the premier said.

    "It is natural that feelings of sympathy develop in bordering countries. Peace is the result when the course of that process develops smoothly and it makes us overcome the economic and social repercussions," Simitis added.

    Asked whether he would bring up the issue of progress in the Cyprus problem as a condition for improvement in Greek-Turkish relations with Turkish premier Bulent Ecevit during their sidelines meeting at the forthcoming Balkan summit in the FYROM capital Skopje, Simitis said he brought this matter up with Ecevit every time they met.

    "The only subject of discussion -- not only with Mr. Ecevit but with the entire Turkish leadership -- is progress in the Cyprus issue. The Cyprus problem has not been resolved, the framework of the relevant UN resolutions exists, and we must act within that framework," the Greek premier said.

    Asked whether the Greek-Turkish model could also work for the improvement of relations between India and Pakistan, Simitis replied "yes, certainly".

    "But there must be a will to overcome the opinion that whoever makes compromises loses. Compromises are necessary, and so is finding solutions to problems," Simitis said.

    "And there is also a rule that must be applied, and which we apply: International Law must be applied, and it has very clear-cut rules. When the rules are clear there are no difficulties in its application, and when differences exist, one can take recourse in international organizations. And if that is not the case, there are also organizations, such as the International Court of Justice at The Hague, that can give solutions," the Greek premier said.

    He said differences should not be settled with arms and the use of violence. "It is a totally wrong action".

    "Everyone interested in peace and cooperation understand that the solution is peace", he added.

    Turning to the purpose of his visit to India. Simitis described bilateral relations between the two countries as "excellent", adding that "our goal is that they will develop even further, and I wish to point out that the EU has not placed the importance it should on India".

    On bilateral economic relations, Simitis said Greece was interested in the informatics sector and India in the sectors of farming, tourism and soft forms of energy. India, he added, was interested in investments on wind and solar energy, in the tourism sector, and in purchasing from Greece olives and olive oil.

    The premier further expressed his sympathy with the victims of the recent disastrous earthquake in India's Gujarat state, which has left more than 20,000 dead and tens of thousands homeless.

    Simitis was speaking to reporters after a ceremony inaugurating the new building housing the Greek Embassy in New Delhi, which was attended by the foreign minister of India. The new embassy building, which cost 1.2 billion dr., was constructed on a plot of land owned by the Greek state.

    [02] Greek Washington embassy official says 2004 Athens Olympiad will be unique sports and cultural celebration

    WASHINGTON, 07/02/2001 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    The director of the Press Office of the Greek embassy in Washington, Achilleas Paparsenos, said in an article published in the Los Angeles Times "despite the doomsayers, we are confident that in 2004 (the year in which the Olympic Games will be held in Greece) millions of visitors to Greece and billions watching on television will enjoy a unique celebration of sport and culture linking the ancient with the modern, a return of the Olympic movement to its roots."

    Paparsenos was replying to criticism directed at Greece on the issue of terrorism by a former official of the US embassy in Athens, Wayne Merry, in the same newspaper.

    "In bad faith, they portray Greece, one of the safest countries in Europe, a member of the European Union, NATO and a reliable U.S. partner, as a terrorist-afflicted third world country and, three years in advance, they write off the Athens Games as an Olympic tragedy in waiting, even suggesting that they be moved to another venue," Paparsenos said, among others.

    He said the security of athletes, dignitaries and spectators is an issue of top priority for 2004 and the Greek authorities will leave nothing to chance.

    "A comprehensive plan for the 2004 Olympic Games, approved by the IOC, delegates responsibility for security to a special Olympic Games security department. This will deploy 50,000 police, army, coast guard and commando units, all equipped with the latest technology, and 1,000 video cameras will keep constant watch from key locations," Paparsenos added.

    Merry, on his part, criticized the Greek state for incompetence and a complete lack of political will to crack down on terrorism and spoke of the possibility of the 2004 Olympic Games being transferred to another city.

    "The clock is ticking toward potential bloody disaster at the Athens Games in 2004, the worst since the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Games in 1972," he said, adding that "most Americans are unaware that Greece has a serious domestic terrorism problem and, worse, a critical counter-terrorism problem."

    Referring to the elusive November 17 terrorist organization, he said it is considered "one of the most successful violent political groups in the world. "

    "In a quarter-century, no terrorist has been arrested or even identified as a suspect, " he added

    "First, the IOC should give the Greek government until the end of 2001 to wipe out 17 November not more promises of arrests, but arrests. Second, the IOC must insist that other EU governments with serious, modern police forces be directly involved in preparing for and protecting the 2004 Games. If, on December 31, these conditions have not been satisfied, the Games should be moved. Seoul and Los Angeles have been mentioned as viable alternatives," Merry said.

    [03] Avramopoulos rules out political alliances, Hytiris accuses Athens Mayor of pandering to TV

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos said that his party would have its own autonomous course on Tuesday, ruling out alliances with other parties. He said he was open to cooperation with all the political parties on equal terms on major issues affecting the public interest.

    At another point in his statements, he clarified that cooperation for strategic purposes and cooperation for the public interest was a different thing.

    The mayor's circle, meanwhile, rejected comments about Avramopoulos made earlier by government spokesman Telemachos Hytiris, saying that they were "not worth commenting on".

    Regarding a meeting held by Avramopoulos on Monday night with prospective members of the new party he is founding, Hytiris had said that Avramopoulos presented something every day on the sidelines of his duties as Athens Mayor in order to get television coverage.

    He added that the government was concerned with real and not "pretend" politics, while noting that main opposition New Democracy daily urged Avramopoulos to return to its ranks through the statements of various ND cadres.

    [04] Spokesman comments on former king's statements to 'El Pais'

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    Greece is obliged to allow its ousted former king, Constantine, to visit the country during the Olympic Games, government spokesman Telemachos Hytiris acknowledged on Tuesday.

    He was responding to questions regarding an interview with Constantine published by the Spanish newspaper "El Pais," in which the erstwhile monarch said that he was certain to win a court case against the Greek government over confiscated royal property in Greece, part of which he said he intends to sell, and announced that he would visit Greece in 2004 while the Olympic Games were being held in Athens.

    The spokesman responded by saying that "history's judgment of the former king will be merciless," and that Constantine would remain where the Greek people had placed him with the national referendum of 1974 - namely, out. He also pointed out that as head of the Greek state, Constantine had sworn the 1967-1974 junta of the colonels in as a government.

    "Greek democracy has no loopholes for the ex-king to take advantage of," Hytiris added, "he has put the country through enough."

    Constantine's claims regarding the royal properties had been vindicated by the European Court of Human Rights in November last year, which found that the former Greek royals had been denied the right to the "peaceful enjoyment of their possessions," and ordered an assessment to determine the amount of compensation due. The former king claimed that the three properties in question had been independently assessed at 450 million dollars or 180 billion drachmas by an international firm.

    Other sections of the 1994 case brought against the Greek state by Constantine, his sister Princess Irene and his aunt Princess Ekaterini were dismissed by the courts, however, which said that they should adopt a name and surname like every other citizen.

    The family was protesting over the Greek state's requirement that they adopt a surname in order to have access to Greek courts and for the continued recognition of their Greek nationality and passports.

    In November last year, the former king had said he would not drop the title "Ex-king of Greece" and add a surname.

    Regarding Constantine's visit during the Olympic Games, the spokesman said that under the contract signed by each host country, it was obliged to allow all members of the International Olympic Committee, of which Constantine is one, to attend the Games.

    Asked what travel documents the king would use to enter the country, the spokesman said that this would be dealt with at the proper time.

    [05] Siemens systems for new Greek subs announced

    BERLIN, 07/02/2001 (ANA - P. Stangos)

    Three U-214 type submarines to be built for the Greek navy by a northern Germany shipyard will be equipped with electrical generators, a new type of solid fuel and digital navigational system by industrial giant Siemens.

    According to a press release by the German multinational's Erlangen-based Industrial Solutions and Services unit on Tuesday, the 75-million euro navigational system - identified as the state-of-the-art "Nautos" -- offered for the new Hellenic Navy subs "is at present the most modern technology available on an international scale for non-nuclear submarines".

    The Siemens unit identified the generators as the "Permasyn" model, which it claims is almost noiseless, and the hi-tech solid fuel as the Polymer Elektrolyt Membran (PEM).

    Greece has ordered three submarines from the Howaldswerke-Duetsche Werft AG of Kiel, with construction of the first vessel expected to begin at the end of the month in the northern Germany port. The other two submarines will be built at Greece's Skaramangas shipyard, west of Athens. Deliveries of the three subs are expected to begin in 2005 and end in 2008.

    According to reports, Greek Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos may attend a ceremony in Kiel marking the beginning of the first sub's construction.

    [06] European Commission to present report on EU member-states' economic and social performances

    BRUSSELS, 07/02/2001 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati / V. Demiris)

    The European Commission will endorse a report on Wednesday containing an account of all the economic and social performances of European Union member-states and of future targets, to be discussed at the special annual spring summit on the European social agenda to be held in Stockholm in March.

    Last year's Lisbon summit defined a 10-year strategy for Europe to enable it to become the most dynamic society of knowledge in the world with employment being the key to economic and social policy.

    Greek European Union Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou said the Stockholm summit should make an account of progress achieved and provide an even greater impetus for the Lisbon strategy.

    "We cannot merely cross our arms and expect that the atmosphere created by Lisbon's favorable conjunctures is enough for our undertaking to be completed," she said, referring to targets which should be achieved in Stockholm.

    According to the economic and social indicators included in the report, Greece holds the following positions, among others, among the 15 member-states:

    Sixth place in economic development rates, 14th in the relation between energy consumption and production, last in labor productivity, ninth in inflation, fourth in the annual rates of increase in labor costs, 11th in the public deficit sector, 13th in the public debt sector, last in employment increase rates, seventh in the employment of elderly people (55-64), 14th in unemployment, last in expenditures for education, last in access to the Internet, 11th in high-risk capital investments, 7th in business investments' increase rates, 11th in the cost of telecommunications at home, seventh in the cost of telecommunications abroad and 14th in the effectiveness of social benefits for combatting poverty.

    Without the positive repercussions from social benefits being considered, it appears that 24 percent of the population of Greece live "below poverty levels", which is defined as the percentage of the population whose GDP per capita is less than 60 percent of the average national GDP.

    [07] Culture minister briefs Evert on 2004 Olympics preparations

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    Former New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert was briefed on preparations for the 2004 Olympic Games and the Cultural Olympiad in Athens, during a meeting with Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday.

    The minister admitted that there were problems in the carrying out of the various Olympics projects but said that everything was under control.

    After the meeting, Venizelos announced that tenders for the Cultural Olympiad will have been completed by the end of February and that the contract between the company Cultural Olympiad SA and the Athens 2004 Olympics Organizing Committee (ATHOC) will have been signed by February 15.

    Venizelos, whose ministry is mainly in charge of coordinating preparations for the Olympics on the government side, promised to include the main opposition MP's proposals in the programmed events for the Cultural Olympiad.

    [08] Greek Euro-MP asks Euro-Parliament to condemn Hizbollah kidnapping

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    A Greek Euro-MP has asked the European Parliament to pass a resolution calling for the release of an Israeli abductee, Elhanan Tannenbaum, by the Lebanon-based terrorist organization Hizbollah, in a motion submitted on behalf of Europarliaments socialist group on Tuesday.

    PASOK Eurodeputy Anna Karamanou condemned Tannenbaum's kidnapping by Hizbollah and asked for his immediate release, noting that his family had received no word about his condition nor been allowed to visit the area where he was being held by the Red Cross.

    A businessman and reserve officer with the rank of colonel, Tannenbaum was taken captive on October 4, 2000, after departing from Israel for a private trip to Europe.

    The Hizbollah guerrilla group based in Lebanon later announced that it had captured Tannenbaum, claiming that he was an agent of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency who had been caught while trying to recruit a Hizbollah member in Lebanon.

    The resolution submitted by Karamanou asks the European Union's presidency to undertake diplomatic initiatives and mediate to stop acts of violence and terrorism and to reinforce the EU's contribution to the Middle East peace process and the search for just solutions in the area.

    [09] Greece welcomes Lockerbie case verdict

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    The government, through an announcement by the foreign ministry, on Tuesday, expressed its satisfaction over the verdict of the Scottish court in the Lockerbie case "which gave justice, according to the principles of the International Court and international legality."

    The announcement said that this decision constitutes an important step in the procedure of equal re-entry of Libya in the international system and added that it is necessary for all sides to work constructively and in good faith for the completely smooth normalization of relations in the immediate future between Libya and the rest of the world.

    Finally, the foreign ministry announcement noted that the Greek government believes that through this decision new prospects are opening for the further development of bilateral relations with Libya on all levels while the two countries' efforts for establishing peace and security in the Mediterranean region are strengthened.

    [10] Three Greek writers to be presented at Harvard University

    BOSTON, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    The Greek Consulate's Press and Communication Office in Boston, in cooperation with the New York branch of the Greek Culture Foundation and Harvard University's Kokkalis Program, will present three Greek writers on Friday afternoon in the Bell Hall of Harvard University's J. F. Kennedy School of Government.

    Dinos Siotis will present the writers Ioanna Karystiani, Ersi Sotiropoulou and Christos Chomenidis, while excerpts from their work will be read in English and Greek by the writers themselves and by translator David Connoly.

    The Greek Consulate also organized another event in Boston on February 5 in cooperation with the Harvard University's Seferis Faculty. Translator Jane Assimakopoulos read excerpts from Thanassis Valtinos' book "Data from the Decade of the Sixties", recently published by the Northwestern University Press.

    [11] IOC delegation in Athens for regular check of 2004 Olympiad projects

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    A delegation of International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials is currently in Athens to conduct a regular check of projects related to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

    The IOC officials will hold meetings with government officials and members of the Athens 2004 Coordinating Committee and visit projects under construction.

    Meanwhile, IOC members in Dakar, where the IOC's Executive Committee is convening, have requested clarifications on certain issues including the extension of the Athens Metro from Panormou Street in Athens to the Athens Olympic stadium and the delay in the auctioning of the Olympic Village.

    [12] Greek, Swiss culture ministers meet in Athens

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    Bilateral cooperation on archaeological research as well as in the general cultural arena was the focus of a meeting in the Greek capital on Tuesday between Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and his Swiss counterpart Ruth Dreyfuss.

    Among others, the presence and activities of the Swiss Archaeological School in Athens was discussed.

    [13] Human Rights Watch says Greek immigration bill violates migrants' rights

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    The draft immigration bill under consideration by Greece's parliament violates migrants' rights, the New York-based organization Human Rights Watch said in an announcement late Monday.

    In a letter to the parliamentarians the organization urged the Greek parliament to make numerous changes to the bill "in order to bring it into line with Greece's international and regional obligations".

    "All migrants have rights," said Holly Cartner, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch's Europe and Central Asia division. "But this deeply flawed bill would permit the government to exploit migrant labor and abuse those rights with impunity," she said.

    The eight-page letter criticizes the bill for, among other things, the absence of an anti-discrimination clause; violating the right to family reunification; failing to address trafficking of migrants and special protections for women migrants trafficked for forced position; failing to acknowledge the fundamental human rights of undocumented migrants; denying undocumented migrant children access to education and health care; lacking a provision prohibiting the detention of migrants awaiting deportation who cannot return to their home countries; failing to include a provision against collective expulsion; including public and private sector sanctions against those assisting migrants; and supporting sanctions on carriers for transporting migrants.

    Human Rights Watch also charged that migrant women who work as domestic helpers in Greece often suffer serious violations (including physical abuse and nonpayment of wages) at the hands of their employers, and urged parliament to grant work permits to migrants in a particular labor sector and not tie permits to a specific employer.

    The organization further called on the Greek government to halt discriminatory police "sweeps" of migrant communities and to observe migrant detainees' procedural rights.

    [14] National economy minister says government has undertaken new initiative on issue of interest charged on overdue loans

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    The issue of interest charged on overdue loans will be given a final solution in March, while National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Tuesday the government has undertaken a new initiative a month ago to solve the issue having inconvenienced thousands of people owing overdue loans.

    Papantoniou said the problem is due to the fact that high interest rates existed in Greece, but this is a thing of the past after the country joined the eurozone. He was speaking after a meeting with party representatives he chaired at his ministry.

    The main conclusion drawn from the meeting was that unanimity was reached on the need to resolve the problem created by interest charged on overdue loans.

    Former prime minister and main opposition New Democracy (ND) party Honorary President Constantine Mitsotakis, who attended the meeting, said unanimity was reached on an issue for the first time by all parties.

    Mitsotakis said previous laws had led to extremities and it was stressed that a clear solution is required now. He added that the government should decide whether it will be on the side of banks or the victims of banks and that he wants to believe that the minister, as he himself said, will present a relevant amendment in Parliament in March.

    [15] Most share cap funds invested, bourse says

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    A total of 72.78 percent of funds raised by listed companies through the bourse in 1998-2000 has been invested, authorities of the Athens Stock Exchange said on Tuesday.

    Raising a total of 4,339 billion drachmas by September 30, 2000 were 187 companies, comprising 122 already quoted firms and 65 entering the market. Invested were 3,158 billion drachmas of the total, bourse authorities said in a statement.

    The investment programs of companies have an implementation term of two to three years.

    The data was collated by authorities from the share capital increase prospectuses endorsed by the stock exchange, compared with mandatory company statements showing how the funds raised had been allocated, the statement said.

    [16] Greek stocks rebound strongly on ASE

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    Equity prices rebounded strongly on the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, reversing a three-day decline, which pushed the general index 5.10 percent lower.

    Traders said buying activity focused on smaller capitalization stocks and noted that better-than-expected news over the debt of investors' "red codes" contributed in the creation of a positive climate in the market.

    The general index ended 1.82 percent higher at 3,154.35 points, near the day's highs of 3,157.16 points, with turnover an improved 137.28 million euros, or 46.78 billion drachmas.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 1.62 percent higher at 1,839.26 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index jumped 2.98 percent to 328.62 points.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 6,924.21 +1.05% Leasing: 480.85 +2.51% Insurance: 1,247.69 +0.18% Investment: 1,264.88 +2.69% Construction: 1,273.58 +4.72% Industrials: 1,887.40 +2.56% Miscellaneous: 2,116.17 +2.35% Holding: 3,251.55 +3.59%

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 4.11 percent higher at 251.18 points.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 324 to 24 with another 11 issues unchanged.

    Agriculture Bank, Viohalco, Coca Cola Bottling, Hellenic Telecoms and National Bank were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Leading shares' closing prices (in euros): National Bank: 38.56 Alpha Bank: 33.54 Commercial Bank: 50.30 Eurobank: 20.68 Piraeus Bank: 14.68 Lambrakis Press: 10.16 Altec: 5.98 Titan Cement (c): 37.40 Hellenic Telecoms: 16.76 Panafon: 7.30 Hellenic Petroleum: 9.54 Attica Enterprises: 6.04 Intracom: 19.56 Minoan Lines: 5.06 Viohalco: 19.52 Coca Cola Bottling: 18.64

    Equity futures end up, tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished higher on Tuesday, in line with the bourse indices on which they are based, traders said.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 1.62 percent up, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 2.98 percent higher.

    Turnover was 55.99 million euros on 8,260 contracts traded, the dealers said.

    Bond prices drop in light trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Tuesday finished lower in light trade focusing on 20-year paper, dealers said.

    The new Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.33 percent from around 5.34 percent a day earlier.

    The yield spread over German bunds was 57 basis points.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 610 million euros (around 208 billion drachmas) from 405 million euros (about 138 billion drachmas) in the previous session.

    Sell orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.

    Euro/dollar reference rate set at 93.22 cents: The European Central Bank set its euro/dollar reference rate at 93.22 cents on Tuesday, pushing the US dollar/drachma rate at 365.53 drachmas.

    The ECB also set the euro/yen at 107.05 yen (3.18 drachmas), the euro/sterling at 63.66 pence (535.26 drachmas), the euro/Swiss franc at 1.5385 francs (221.48 drachmas) and the euro/Cyprus pound rate at 57.95 cents (588 drachmas).

    Mutual funds show negative returns in January: Greece's equity mutual funds showed negative returns in January, although money market funds recorded slight gains during the same period, a report by the country's Institutional Investors Union said on Tuesday.

    The domestic mutual funds market remains in the red in the last 16 months at the despair of Greek investors and savings owners who cannot find alternative investment or savings products to ensure positive returns for their money.

    Mutual funds' assets totalled 10.187 trillion drachmas in January, off 338 billion drachmas or 3.21 percent in the month. The decline reflects a 9.38 percent fall in domestic mutual funds' equity assets due to a decline in share prices on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Domestic fixed-income mutual funds' assets, however, increased 7.79 percent in January raising their market share to 17 percent.

    Three new mutual funds were launched in January, all from ETBAbank.

    Money market mutual funds' retained a 49.43 percent market share, with domestic funds' assets at 5.03 trillion drachmas (off 3.67 percent) and an average return of 0.30 percent.

    Foreign money market funds assets totalled 1.60 billion drachmas with an average return of 0.42 percent. International money market's assets totalled 8.14 billion (off 8.49 percent) and with an average return of 0.38 percent.

    Equity mutual funds' market share fell to 24.06 percent in January a from 25.49 percent in December.

    Domestic equity funds' assets totalled 2.269 trillion drachmas (off 9.38 percent) and with an average return of -7.75 percent from the beginning of the year. Foreign funds' assets rose 2.41 percent to 138.91 billion drachmas with an average return of 2.18 percent. International funds' assets eased 0.25 percent to 43.18 billion drachmas, and with an average return of 0.19 percent.

    Fixed-income mutual funds' market share rose to 17.01 percent in January from 15.34 percent in December.

    Domestic bond mutual funds' assets rose 7.79 percent to 1.632 trillion drachmas and with an average return of 0.63 percent. Foreign bond funds' assets rose 1.16 percent in January to 68.42 billion drachmas and an average return of 0.42 percent. International bonds' assets increased 1.06 percent to 32.77 billion drachmas and with an average return of 0.64 percent.

    Combined mutual funds' market share eased to 9.50 percent from 9.51 percent in December.

    Domestic combined funds' assets eased 3.48 percent to 883 billion drachmas and an average return of -3.26 percent. Foreign funds' assets totalled 4.71 billion with an average return of 0.33 percent and International combined funds' assets fell 1.74 percent to 80.26 billion drachmas, with an average return of 0.72 percent.

    [17] Foreign debt amounts to 24.2 percent of total as at 31-12-2000

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    The country's foreign debt amounted to 24.2 percent of the total debt and the domestic debt to 75.8 percent as at December 31,2000, according to data on the public debt publicized by the Finance Ministry.

    At the same period, the domestic debt was composed of Greek state bonds by 82.96 percent, Bank of Greece loans 11.76, public interest bearing bills 4.42 and armed forces' debts 0.86.

    According to an analysis of loans received from abroad in 2000, 87.92 percent concern euro, 4.85 US dollars and 7.23 Japanese yen.

    [18] Microsoft's No.2 speaks in Athens on Thursday

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    The Vice President of the US-based Microsoft Corporation, Jean-Philippe Courtois, will speak in Athens on Thursday, invited by the National Bank of Greece.

    Courtois will speak at National Bank's Megaro Melas on technology as the key to strengthening the new economy.

    On the same day, Courtois and National's governor, Theodoros Karatzas, will hold a news conference on cooperation between the software giant and the bank.

    [19] Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry to organize business delegation to Belgrade on February 27-28

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    The Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI) will be organizing a business delegation to Belgrade on February 27-28 in cooperation with the Interbalkan and Black Sea Business Center and production and scientific agencies in Thessaloniki. Greek businesses from all sectors are being called on to participate.

    The TCCI said the purpose of the delegation would be to probe possibilities of developing cooperation between businessmen from the two countries.

    It is the first delegation to be organized by agencies in Thessaloniki to the region after the end of the war in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

    [20] Business delegation from island of Taiwan in Greece next week

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    A delegation of entrepreneurs and executives representing 27 companies from the island of Taiwan will arrive in Greece next week for a series of contacts with representatives of local firms and businesses.

    Trade between Greece and the large west Pacific island reached the $195.9-million mark in 2000 - up 0.6 percent from the previous year -- with the lion's share being Taiwan-made exports to Greece ($174.3 million).

    Greek exports, although valued only at $21.6 million, nevertheless increased by 38.5 percent, whereas imports from Taiwan posted a small decrease of 2.6 percent.

    Members of the visiting trade delegation represent industries active in the sectors of electronic components and accessories, textiles, house ware, machinery, medical equipment, giftware and stationary as well as sporting goods.

    [21] Piraeus Harbor Organization unveils ambitious three-year investment program

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    Piraeus Harbor Organization on Tuesday unveiled an ambitious three-year investment program envisaging the building of luxury hotels, conference center, car station and works across the harbors piers.

    The Organization will seek consent from all social agencies, harbor users and local authorities to ensure the rapid implementation of the program.

    The plan envisages building of a five-star and a four-star hotel in an area located at the central harbor, and of a conference center.

    Piraeus does not currently have a luxury hotel and plans to build one ahead of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

    The project for a reconstruction of the harbors piers is estimated at around 25 billion drachmas.

    [22] Greek government seeks professions' deregulation

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    The Greek government will discuss final proposals on a plan to deregulate so-called "closed shop" professions in the country by the summer, following talks between ministries, unions and agencies.

    National Economy and Finance Minister, Yiannos Papantoniou, speaking to reporters after a meeting with Justice Minister Mihalis Stathopoulos, Education Minister Petros Efthimiou and Transport Minister Christos Verelis, said the government's intention was not to fully open so-called "closed shop" professions but to simplify procedures, to combat bureaucracy in business activity and to offer better services to Greek citizens.

    Papantoniou said that government ministries would begin a dialogue with trade unions before an Economic and Social Committee meeting scheduled by the summer discussed final proposals.

    "We aim to offer solutions based on dialogue and consent for the interest of trade and labor rights," he said.

    Papantoniou said the government also plans to introduce simpler procedures on setting-up and operation of businesses by requiring less paperwork and lesser time to grant operating license.

    [23] EU seeks return of farming cash from Greece

    BRUSSELS, 07/02/2001 (ANA - B. Demiris)

    The European Union's executive Commission on Tuesday asked Greece to repay 400,000 euros, or 136 million drachmas, for irregularities in spending on farming.

    Other EU members were also asked to return funds, which totalled 399.9 million euros, including the Greek figure, the Commission said in a statement.

    [24] Thessaloniki hosts 2nd International Wine Competition

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    Greece will hold a second International Wine Competition in Thessaloniki, February 28-March 3, to coincide with an international food and beverages trade fair "DETROP".

    The wine competition is organized by the Ambelonas Vinters Union and under the auspices of Office International de la Vigne et du Vin and several Greek wine agencies.

    The competition is aiming to present the world's quality wines and to further promote and expand the wine culture in the Mediterranean region.

    The judging committee will comprise of Greek and foreign wine experts, producers and journalists.

    [25] Minister to open world cleaning materials trade fair

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    Minister of State Miltiades Papaioannou on Wednesday will launch Expo Clean 2001, an international cleaning materials trade fair to be held at the EKEP center on the Athens-Lamia highway.

    The trade fair runs until February 12.

    [26] Greek animal feed sector becoming saturated, survey says

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    Greece's animal feed production sector is competitive but is showing signs of saturation due to the high number of firms operating in the sector, the Institute of Economic and Industrial Research said in a survey released on Tuesday.

    The result was that firms were coming under pressure in the market, which could lead to the creation of ailing enterprises, the survey said.

    The outlook for the animal sector was closely linked to that of livestock breeding, which suffered from a lack of infrastructure that could, however, be remedied under EU funding from the Third Community Support Framework, it added.

    [27] First series of test flights at Spata airport completed

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    A series of test flights at the new international airport at Spata, which is officially due to open in March, ended on Tuesday with an "emergency" flight transporting virtual passengers, while a second flight by an Olympic Airways plane is due to take place in the afternoon.

    The next test flight will take place at the weekend, possibly with a regular Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Athens.

    Environment and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis, meanwhile, announced that the map-guides to the new airport were now ready, and said that the "traffic balance" to the new airport would be better than that for the old Athens airport at Ellinikon.

    He said that his ministry was planning important changes to the greater Athens road network, in order to facilitate the flow of traffic toward Spata.

    According to Laliotis, the works on major roads leading to the new airport, such as widening and other improvements, will be completed by March 2001. In addition, he said, new and frequent "express" bus services for the new airport will be introduced.

    [28] Names of ELPIDA award winners announced by the society's president

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    The names of winners of the ELPIDA awards, given every four years by the society Friends of Children with Cancer ELPIDA, were announced on Tuesday by its President Marianna Vardinoyianni.

    The first award, accompanied by a cash prize of 14,000 euro, will be given to professor Heribert Jurgens from the "Cancer League" organization, while the second one will go to doctor Christine Janin from the "Achacun son Everest" organization and has a cash prize of 7,000 euro.

    Vardinoyianni said an award would also be given to Ted Kennedy Junior for his considerable work and great experience on the issue of cancer, since he himself has experience of the disease for many years.

    The purpose of the awards is to reward social agencies struggling against the various problems faced by children suffering from cancer and their families.

    The relevant ceremony will be held under the auspices of Greek European Union Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou in the old Parliament building on February 16 in the presence of President Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    [29] Seven former Thessaloniki cultural capital officials acquitted

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    A Thessaloniki misdemeanor court on Tuesday acquitted seven former high-ranking officials of the debt-ridden Thessaloniki 1997 Cultural Capital Organization (OPPE), including the city's one-time mayor, of charges related to financial irregularities.

    The acquittals come in the only case involving the OPPE's controversial multi-billion-drachma budget ever to reach trial. A three-member panel of jurists reached the verdict unanimously.

    Charges of breach of trust and moral complicity to commit breach of trust had been leveled at former Thessaloniki mayor Dinos Kosmopoulos and several other OPPE officials, including the organizations last artistic director, Panos Theodoridis, and local publisher Petros Papasarantopoulos.

    Charges stemmed from the publication of a collector's edition tome detailing the northern Greek city's history by a publishing house owned by Papasarantopoulos, a contract worth 90 million drachmas, as well as the purchase of a defendant's residence in the border town of Florina in order to house a "Balkan poets' sanctuary".

    After the verdict was announced 14 past OPPE board members, including the seven acquitted defendants, issued a press release stating that "the vindication of those involved - as significant as it is for us - is secondary before the rehabilitation of the city's prestige".

    Another OPPE-related investigation began in March 1998, when an appeals court prosecutor focused on a series of cases involving the payment of exorbitant fees to artists who allegedly failed to produce any work for the organization.

    Most of the irregularities occurred in the years leading up to the Cultural Capital events, in 1993-1995.

    [30] Greenpeace protests material used in Attiki Odos construction

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    Environmentalists on Tuesday staged a symbolic take-over of an Attiki Odos worksite in an Athens suburb to protest the use of what it called dioxin-containing construction material.

    Members of the Greek national chapter of Greenpeace staged the takeover of a construction site in Kantza of the Attiki Odos consortium building the Attika Freeway (or Attiki Odos in Greek) road link, saying that the construction materials used for building the anti-skid layer of the road contained dioxins.

    They identified the hazardous material as rust from the Halyvourgiki iron industry, which they warned would create an immense problem as the substance could be ingested by the human organism through breathing.

    Attiki Odos construction consortium responds to Greenpeace protest: The Attiki Odos is interested in public health and the security of the citizens and for this reason has proceeded in all the necessary studies which show that the materials used in the project are not only safe but of excellent quality, the Attiki Odos consortium said in an announcement on Tuesday in response to accusations by the Greenpeace organization "of roads paved with dioxins".

    The consortium said it has shown ecological sensitivity from the start of the construction of the project, despite the fact that it chose a material, which today is broadly being used both in Greece and abroad. There is no danger, the consortium added.

    [31] Agriculture minister says risk of spongiform encephalopathy in local meat production is very low

    Athens, 07/02/2001 (ANA)

    Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis, addressing Parliament's Permanent Production and Trade Committee on Tuesday, said the risk of the spongiform encephalopathy disease appearing in local meat production is very low.

    He explained that this is so because in Greece the public prefers smaller animals, most of which are slaughtered much earlier than their 30th month (when the disease appears), and because the use of flour derived from meat is not widespread in animal production.

    Anomeritis also announced that the first round of tests for the disease this year has been completed with a random sample of 131 animals, without traces of the virus causing it being detected.

    On the question of possible risks for public health from the import of agricultural and animal products contaminated with uranium from Yugoslavia, he said that due to the embargo and sanitary restrictions by the European Union no animal was imported from Albania and Yugoslavia in past years, while imports from Bulgaria were limited.

    [32] Cyprus foreign minister leaves for visits to Jordan and Greece

    NICOSIA, 07/02/2001 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides was due to leave on Tuesday tonight for a visit to Amman, Jordan, at the invitation of his counterpart Abdul Ilah Al-Khatib, to discuss bilateral relations.

    From Jordan the Cypriot minister will fly to Greece, where he will meet Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Friday, to discuss the Cyprus problem and the Cyprus Republic's European Union accession course.

    Diplomatic sources told CNA that the visit to Jordan aims at further promoting bilateral relations and the good climate existing with friendly Arab countries.

    Neighboring Arab countries have also been showing an interest in Cyprus' bid to join the European Union.

    The Cyprus Republic opened accession talks with the EU in 1998 and is considered to lead other candidate countries in the process of adopting the European rules and regulations.

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