|Friday, 20 September 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-02-09
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Premier tells Indian industrialists his visit will boost bilateral trade relations
BOMBAY, 09/02/2001 (ANA-Y. Papachristos)The political and economic stability in Greece place the country at the top of the list in the investments sector, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis said Thursday, addressing the Confederation of Industries of India during an official visit to the country.
Over the past five years, he said, Greece was developing at a higher rate than the European Union average, while inflation was just at 3 percent and the current state budget had a surplus.
Simitis said that this macro-economic stability was cemented about a month ago when Greece became the 12th member of the EU's monetary union (EMU).
"And to be a member of EMU is a guarantee for low inflation and healthy public finances," the premier said, adding that these created an "environment of investment stability".
The Greek economy was expected to develop at even higher rates of approximately 5 percent, and investments were the lever for development, as was the case in the last five years, Simitis said.
He anticipated a speedy growth in investments due to the decline in interest rates and their harmonization with the corresponding levels in the euro-zone, and made note of the major projects for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games currently underway, as well as the substantial inflow of EU funds for specialized investment programs.
The premier said that the reduction of business cost decided by Greece rendered the country even more attractive to investors, at the same time noting the reduction in bureaucracy and the continually improving efficiency of public services.
Improving competitiveness was the top priority in the field of economic reforms, which was being archived through a program of deregulation of the markets, Simitis said.
Greece, he added, was an open economy whose main exports were fresh and processed foods, cotton, tobacco, textiles and other products, and whose agricultural industry was evolving into one of the fastest developing sectors of the economy.
In addition, he said, tourism covered the largest proportion of the country's trade deficit.
Greece had a specific economic and political role to play in the region of Southeastern Europe, and was a stabilizing force in the region as well as in the area of the Middle East, he said, adding that Greece was creating thousands of jobs in the Balkan countries and was host to hundreds of thousands of immigrants.
Briefly reviewing Greece's foreign relations, he said the country maintained close relations with the Arab world in both the political and economic fields, while relations and economic cooperation with Turkey had also improved significantly.
On prospects of cooperation with India, Simitis said the two countries had come closer in recent years, and this was reflected in the volume of trade and number of cooperation agreements in such sectors as the economy, defense and business activity between the two countries.
"We are only at the start of this cooperation. The prospects opening up for further expansion are immense, and I hope that my visit here will serve as a catalyst for further deepening and expansion of our bilateral relations. Our trade exchanges can be expanded through direct investments and joint enterprises," the premier said.
He told the Indian industrialists that "we can come even closer so as to build societies that will have the ability to incorporate all their citizens without marginalizing the disadvantaged and unfortunate".
"Greece and India place huge importance and value on education, human rights, liberty and democracy," Simitis said.
Onassis Foundation donates 100,000 US dollars to India quake victims: The Onassis Foundation on Thursday announced the donation of 100,000 US dollars to a special relief fund for the quake victims in India, set up by the country's prime minister.
An Onassis Foundation statement said the donation was an act of solidarity to the suffering Indian people.
 Greek and Bulgarian FMs discuss bilateral issues and situation in Balkans
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Bulgarian counterpart Nadezhda Mihaylova on Thursday discussed bilateral issues, the situation prevailing in the Balkans and the Alexandroupolis-Burgas oil pipeline.
Papandreou underlined the excellent cooperation currently existing between Greece and Bulgaria on bilateral issues and on regional ones as well on which there is an identity of views, saying that friendship between them "is not only historical but timely as well."
He said he discussed issues concerning European Union and NATO enlargement with his Bulgarian counterpart, hailed progress achieved by Bulgaria regarding its accession to Euroatlantic institutions and added that Greece "will always be at its side."
Papandreou further said that a large part of their discussions was devoted to the crisis in southern Serbia and a joint initiative was agreed to have it included among top priority issues at the Interbalkan summit on February 22-23 in Skopje (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia).
Talks on bilateral issues focused on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, the course of economic cooperation and cooperation in the transport sector.
Papandreou said the present period is historic for the Balkans and southeastern Europe, adding that "we can now hope for a different future of peace and cooperation in the region."
Mihaylova said her official visit to Greece "constitutes a message for the cooperation of a strategic nature between the two countries", adding that dialogue with Papandreou over the past two years was always very fruitful and comprehensive.
She said rapprochement of views between the two countries facilitates fruitful and constructive discussions on both bilateral and regional issues and pointed out that "at present we have the possibility of exceeding the narrow nucleus of our bilateral relations and including our cooperation in a European perspective."
 Papandreou says Greece is making substantial efforts to combat terrorism
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou told journalists on Thursday that Greece's coordinated and substantial efforts to combat the international phenomenon of terrorism is recognized worldwide.
He expressed the conviction that the result of this effort will be positive so that those who commit crimes are sentenced and in parallel that the country's image abroad is not harmed.
Papandreou denounced the exaggerations heard frequently from foreign newspapers, which swell the problem. These exaggerations, he said, do not contribute to the serious confrontation of the problem and appealed for cooperation with everyone.
 CIA Director says 'significant efforts' needed for 2004 Games' security
WASHINGTON, 09/02/2001 (ANA - T. Ellis)The issue of security for the 2004 Games in Athens came up during testimony given by the CIA's director on Wednesday before an influential US Senate committee.
CIA Director George J. Tenet told members of the US Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence that Greek authorities must make significant efforts in order ensure a desired degree of effectiveness in the security sector.
In response to a question from Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) on whether he could offer the new administration assurances on the safety of US athletes and tourists at the 2004 Games in Athens, Tenet said he's made it clear to relevant Greek ministers that the terrorist threat must be taken "much more seriously than in the past", while cautioning that the Olympics are very "vulnerable".
Tenet, who is of Greek descent, emphasized that authorities in Athens must not only show that they can solve past terrorism cases but also demonstrate that they can safeguard all athletes during the 2004 Games, including Americans.
Tenet touched on security for the Games after his initial address on a wide array of issues and regions, and in response to a question.
Finally, regarding the situation in the Balkans, Tenet said that new Yugoslav leader Vojislav Kostunica "will also face problems holding his country together" while noting that Montenegro's drive for independence "presents a simmering crisis".
"Montenegrin President Djukanovic remains committed to negotiating a new, decentralized relationship with Belgrade ... Events in the rest of Yugoslavia will have impact on Kosovo as well. Ethnic Albanians from across the political spectrum in Kosovo still insist on independence. There are signs that Kosovo's troubles are spilling over into southern Serbia where both ethnic Albanians and Serbs live in close proximity," he said, adding:
"Most ethnic Albanians in this region seek only greater civil rights within Serbia, but militants are fighting to join the region to an independent Kosovo. This is a dangerous flashpoint ... with the potential for escalation."
Greek government spokesman: Commenting on Tenet's statements in Athens on Thursday, government spokesman Telemachos Hytiris seemed not to agree with reports regarding what the CIA director had said.
According to Hytiris, Tenet had submitted a written report to the Senate's committee in which Greece was not mentioned at all.
The spokesman went on to say that the CIA director had answered a question put by a senator and said that greater efforts in combatting terrorism needed to be made in Greece.
According to Hytiris, the efforts on this issue were already being made and he referred to successful athletic meets that the country had hosted, such as the World Athletics Championships in 1997.
With regard to the Olympic Games, the spokesman said that preparations for this were proceeding correctly and were satisfactory in the area of security also.
Government spokesman slams US journalist Merry over criticizing Athens' record on tackling terrorism: Government spokesman Telemachos Hytiris on Thursday unleashed a scathing attack on US journalist Wayne Merry, formerly an employee of the US Embassy in Athens, who has repeatedly criticized Greece's record on combatting terrorism and questioned the security of the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004.
Using epithets such as "ridiculous," "provocateur" and "paranoid," the spokesman blasted Merry's latest article in the political review "Weekly Standard" in which the US journalist allegedly says, among others, that it is "almost certain" that Prime Minister Costas Simitis is not directly involved in terrorism.
Hytiris also accused Merry of being unreliable in reference to information that the latter claims to have from the CIA and FBI and on which he based his analyses.
 US State Department distances itself from Merry's accusations against Greece
WASHINGTON, 09/02/2001 (ANA - T. Ellis)The US State Department on Thursday clearly distanced itself from accusations leveled against Greece by former State Department official Wayne Merry who, in recent articles, linked the issue of terrorism directly to the transfer of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games to another country.
Merry had also made innuendos about links between members of the government and the elusive November 17 terrorist organization and had criticized the Greek media of assisting the organization with their stance.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher emphasized that Merry was a "former" State Department official (he himself stressed the word "former"), adding that he was not in a position to comment on the content of Merry's article since he had not read it in its entirety.
"Not having read the entire article, I can't parse through them. But generally, no, we don't share the accusations. And this is our view of the situation," he said.
Boucher reiterated the support of the US for a safe Olympiad in Athens in 2004, stressing that "as in all such events, the possibility exists that terrorists will attempt to use the venue to advance their agenda. And that was evident, I think, in the CIA threat assessment testimony yesterday. But at this time we have no specific information that would indicate a particular threat to the games."
Boucher added that "the United States along with several other countries has formed an Olympic security advisory group for the 2004 Olympics. The group has traveled to Athens to meet with Greek officials late last year, and they will return this spring for further consultations. As we've said many times, it is very important for the Greek government to continue to take concrete steps towards the arrest and prosecution of terrorists. But in terms of the Olympics and this project, there's this international group that will be meeting with the Greeks and will be working with them to ensure that we have a safe Olympics."
 Foreign ministry to draft proposals on S. Serbia, Kosovo
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)Foreign minister George Papandreou has instructed the appropriate ministry services to draft a text of proposals on tackling the explosive situation in southern Serbia and Kosovo, the ministry spokesman said on Thursday.
The spokesman, Panos Beglitis, said that Papandreou was currently in contact on this issue with Anne Lindh, the foreign minister of Sweden which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, while the matter would also be discussed by the 15 European Union foreign ministers at a general affairs meeting on February 26 in Brussels.
Beglitis said the text would contain political as well as economic proposals, adding that Papandreou had already completed a first round of contacts on the matter with his counterparts from Yugoslavia, FYROM and Romania.
Papandreou further discussed the developments in the Balkans recently with UN secretary general Kofi Annan in Stockholm, during which meeting they ascertained the need for coordination between the EU and other international organizations with the sides involved in the crisis, the spokesman said.
The proposals concerned an overall and comprehensive approach to tackling the crisis in the region, Beglitis added.
 Defense minister, MP delegation, visit Greek troops in Kosovo
UROSEVAC, 09/02/2001 (ANA - S. Tzimas)Permanent peace in the Balkans is a far-off dream, National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Thursday while visiting Greek peacekeeping troops stationed at Urosevac in Kosovo.
Tsohatzopoulos is visiting the area at the head of a delegation from Parliament's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee.
The defense minister went on to say, however, that things were now on the right track and conditions were ripe for an end to conflict and violence in the region.
He added that an international investigation into the repercussions of the depleted uranium missiles used in Kosovo on health and the environment is due to end in March and assured the gathered troops that all measurements by Greek scientists had shown radiation to be within acceptable limits.
The defense minister and accompanying delegation arrived at the Greek army camp in Urosevac shortly before noon and were greeted by the soldiers, officers and commander of the Greek forces in Kosovo, Brigadier Christos Vafiadis.
The soldiers were also addressed by Achilleas Karamanlis on behalf of main opposition New Democracy, who said that the goal of maintaining a Greek military presence in the area was to establish peace in the region and stressed that Greece's participation was very important because it was a Balkan country itself.
Maria Damanaki delivered a message from the Coalition of the Left and Progress, and told the soldiers that "we see you as the face of Greece in the area."
Later the Greek delegation is due to visit the command center of the Greek brigade in Kosovo Polje near Pristina, and will return to Athens late in the afternoon.
 European Union delegation holds talks with Yugoslav President Kostunica on situation in the region
BELGRADE, 09/02/2001 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)A European Union delegation visiting Yugoslavia on Thursday held talks on developments in the region with Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic and Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.
The EU delegation was composed of Common Foreign Policy and Security Commissioner Javier Solana, Foreign Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten, Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lint and Belgian foreign ministry official Anemi Naytes.
Kostunica said the EU officials expressed readiness to provide Yugoslavia with considerable economic aid and support democratic economic reforms taking place in the country, as well as the process of regional cooperation and reconciliation being promoted by the Yugoslav authorities.
The European officials also expressed their support for the democratic settlement of Serbia's relations with Montenegro, hailed self-restraint shown by Serbian security forces in southern Serbia, condemned violence by Albanian extremists and supported the Serbian plan to defuse the crisis.
On the question of the extradition of people accused of war crimes, the EU officials called for specific and full cooperation with the International Penal Court on a legal basis.
The EU officials also said in 2001 the EU would invest a billion marks in the agriculture and energy sectors, as well as for the construction of infrastructure projects in Yugoslavia.
On his part, Solana said "I am pleased to be in Belgrade as an EU representative to help the new democratic authorities to build a new democratic society."
Solana's presence, however, drew reaction by some Serbs and hundreds of people staged a protest rally and shouted slogans against NATO and Solana.
 Greek Parliament grants 800,000 dollars to Yugoslavian legislature
BELGRADE, 09/02/2001 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)Greek Ambassador to Yugoslavia Michalis Spinelis on Thursday handed over 800,000 dollars to the two presidents of the Yugoslavian federal parliament, a grand from the Greek Parliament for the restoration of the building.
The money was granted by the Greek Parliament following a proposal by the legislative body's president Apostolos Kaklamanis, to ameliorate damages caused during the Oct. 5, uprising that changed the government, bringing elected Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica to power.
 No PR firm hired to promote Greek-US government relations
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)Foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis on Thursday denied press reports that a public relations firm had been assigned to promote the Greek government's relations with the new US administration.
Beglitis said that no such decision had been taken, and that relations with US government officials were at a "very good" level, noting that meetings with officials of the Republican Party had taken place in late October, before the US presidential elections.
The spokesman said that further contacts would also be made in the near future, including a telephone contact between foreign minister George Papandreou and his new US counterpart, Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Beglitis said that the practice of assigning private PR companies such a task was "not reproachable planning", but added that no such decision had been taken by the foreign ministry.
 Government to table in Parliament International Labor Accord on "banning the worst forms of child labor"
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)The government will table in Parliament for ratification soon International Labor Accord 182 on "banning the worst forms of child labor and immediate action aimed at their eradication."
The agreement, apart from the labor and social insurances ministry, will also be ratified by the national defense, justice, public order and foreign affairs ministries.
The national defense ministry in particular has adjusted the framework concerning the recruitment of Greek citizens to enable it to be compatible with what is anticipated by International Accord 182.
International Labor Accord 182 was voted in June 1999, during the 87th session of the International Labor Organization, and anticipates the creation of national action programs and apparatuses to monitor its implementation.
In Greece it has been estimated that about 80,000 people aged between 14 and 19 are working, while 50,000 of them are involved in agriculture and fewer in trade and industry. Moreover, 15,000 children leave school every year before completing compulsory nine-year education.
 Minister introduces constitutional amendments on forestland use
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)Ruling PASOK party rapporteur on constitutional amendments Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday evening introduced changes to the amendment of the constitution's article concerning forests and forest land uses, in the face of opposition by environmental groups, judicial authorities and opposition parties in Parliament.
All parties agreed on the proposed amendment mandating the principle of "sustainable development", but opposition parties strongly disagreed on the possibility of land use changes, which if allowed, they claimed, would open the possibility of fast deforestation.
Thus the minister chose to change the wording of the proposed amendment to read that forestland use may be changed for the benefit of the "national economy, in regards to agricultural use, or other use, which is forced by the public interest".
Main opposition New Democracy, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left and Progress announced that they would reject the amendment, although all parties announced that they would not demand of their deputies to show open party discipline.
The introduction of a comprehensive land registry in Greece is expected to complicate the already difficult situation created by squatters on forest lands that have built and have lived on them for decades, thus the amendment wants to solve this problem and resolve the obstacles created by lengthy legal battles with citizens in Greece's constitutional court regarding the legality of forest land use in public works.
 Efthymiopoulos backs government on Aheloos River, despite personal objections
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)Clarifying his position on plans to divert the Aheloos River, Deputy Environment Minister Ilias Efthymiopoulos told the ANA on Thursday that he would back the government's decisions as a minister but continue to support his views at the party's official organs.
The controversial project to divert the river, which runs through Aetoloakarnania in western Greece, in order to irrigate the country's foremost agricultural region in the Thessaly plain is strongly opposed by all environmental groups and did not qualify for European Union funding.
Efthymiopoulos came under fire from ruling PASOK deputies during a meeting of Parliament's committee for the assessment of technology, which he had been called to testify before on Thursday, when he noted his earlier opposition to the Aheloos diversion scheme that the government intends to forge ahead with.
The project is not included in the 3rd Community Support Framework because the EU did not accept it as an option, Efthymiopoulos noted, and pointed out the different views on this by politicians and other groups. While farmers in Thessaly were in favor of the diversion, the sum of environmental organizations was against it, he added, and repeated that his personal position was and is against diverting the river.
In response to PASOK MP Theodoros Katsanevas, who said that a minister who disagreed with a policy he was called on to implement should resign, Efthymiopoulos said that the Aheloos River project came under the public works portfolio, not that of environment. He underlined that he felt obliged to fall in line with the position of the government that he supported.
At the same time, he added, he would continue to voice his opinion, even when he disagreed, when and where this was called for.
In his statements to the ANA, he said:
"I retain the right to support my views within the official organs, if this contributes to balancing regional differences or the better protection of the environment."
 Left-wing parties submit bill for proportional representation in elections
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left and Progress on Thursday jointly submitted a bill in Parliament that would establish direct proportional representation in the election system.
According to KKE spokesman Antonis Skyllakos, the bill is the result of an initiative undertaken by his party, the Coalition and the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI). He added that under the present electoral system, the seats did not reflect the number of votes.
Under a system of proportional representation, he added, his own party would have got six more seats, the Coalition an additional four and DHKKI would have gotten into Parliament with eight seats.
"Pluralism is not damaging to the Parliament," he concluded.
 Skopje daily claims recent Greek proposal over 'name issue'
SKOPJE, 09/02/2001 (ANA - M. Vihou)A local daily here has published what it calls a recent proposal by Athens for a solution to the decade-old "name issue", the last remaining - albeit most significant -- obstacle to a full normalization in relations between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Quoting unnamed government officials in the Skopje government, the independent daily "Dvevnik" this week cited several major concessions by Athens in order achieve a solution, with the derivatives of "North" or "New" ostensibly added to the name "Macedonia" -- the same name as Greece's large northern province, known since antiquity as Macedonia.
The newspaper report claims that Athens has promised wide-ranging economic and political support to its land-locked northern neighbor, including backing its EU and NATO prospects, inclusion in the Union's regional programs, direct investments in the country as well as granting Schengen Pact travel visas to FYROM citizens.
The paper also claims that the Orthodox Church in FYROM will at first be recognized as the "Macedonian Church of Ohrid". After four years of coming under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople the new church would be declared Autocephalus, the paper continues.
Relations between Athens and Skopje have improved markedly since they signed an interim agreement in New York in September 1995, under UN auspices. Under the terms of the agreement, Greece and FYROM are to proceed with discussions to find a mutually acceptable solution for the name issue.
 Greek government says respects autonomy of Patriarchate of Jerusalem
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)"We are following a policy of principles and not of persons, based on the respect of the autonomy of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem," Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said on Thursday.
He was commenting on a recent letter sent by certain metropolitans to Foreign Minister George Papandreou and also to a recent interview given by Metropolitan Irineos to the newspaper Exousia.
Beglitis said that "the Greek government does not intervene in the procedure of the election of the new patriarch but on the contrary wishes to secure certain basic principles such as the Greek Orthodox character of the Patriarchate and its self-governing and autonomous character."
The spokesman added that "the new Patriarch should secure the role of the Patriarchate in this sensitive region, more so during this period where important developments are in progress."
 European journalists group protest against rejection of Greek publisher's visa application
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)The Association of European Journalists on Tuesday addressed a letter to the Ambassador of the United States in Greece, Nicholas Burns, protesting the rejection of a Greek publisher's application for a visa to visit the US.
"The Association of European Journalists was surprised and sad to hear about the forbiddance of entrance of the publisher of the journal "ANTI" Christos Papoutsakis in the USA, based on the assumption of his being a member of a terrorist group," the letter signed by the association's president Helmut Hetzel read.
"We consider this fact as an unacceptable behavior towards a European journalist and we are certain that such a decision taken by the authorities of the USA is not consistent with its democratic principles.
"Under such circumstances we are deeply concerned and strongly protest against this event," the letter concluded.
 Alpha Bank becomes a national sponsor in 2004 Olympics
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)Private Alpha Bank, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, has been chosen as the national sponsor in the banking sector for the 2004 Olympics to be hosted by the Greek capital, the head of the event's organizers said on Thursday.
Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki told a news conference that Alpha's bid of 25.2 billion drachmas was the highest yet in the overall sponsorship program.
The Alpha Bank Group's president, Yiannis Kostopoulos, presented Daskalaki with a cheque for 1.85 billion drachmas, an advance payment on the total.
The other bidders in the bank sponsorship tender were National Bank of Greece, Commercial Bank of Greece, Bank of Cyprus and EFG Eurobank Ergasias.
Winning the breweries sponsorship section was Athenian Brewery SA.
 Yugoslavia's re-admittance to international fora paves the way for closer economic relations with Greece
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)Yugoslavia's re-admittance to international fora, following a change in the country's political scene, paves the way for closer and stronger economic relations between Greece and Yugoslavia and the expansion of Greek businesses in the country, a seminar on bilateral relations said on Thursday.
The seminar was organized by the Union of Greek Industries (SEB) and the Athens Industry Chamber with the cooperation of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav Commerce and Industry Chamber.
Delegates said that Yugoslavia's re-admittance to United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and plans to joint the World Bank, were evidence of the country's rejuvenation in the last three months.
Members of a strong Yugoslav delegation urged Greek businessmen to directly invest in their country.
L. Antonakopoulos, SEB's chairman, said that Yugoslavia was an attractive destination for Greek businesses and that several enterprises have already started investment procedures in the fields of tobacco, beverages, food, banking and energy.
Greece is currently the sixth major trade partner of Yugoslavia and the third largest among EU member-states.
Greece is also the second most significant foreign investor in Yugoslavia, following the Netherlands, with a total of 250 Greek enterprises operating in the country, among them Hellenic Telecoms, Mytilineos Group, Germanos, Intralot and Delta Dairy.
Greece also offered the biggest humanitarian aid to Belgrade.
SEB's chairman said that a Greek plan for the reconstruction of the Balkans was moving rapidly - particularly the section covering Yugoslavia.
Slobodan Korac, chairman of Yugoslavia's Commerce and Industry Chamber, said that implementation of a new privatization bill would prove of strategic importance to Greek businesses' expansion in the country. Korac said that up to 90 percent of Yugoslav state enterprises would be privatized in the next two years.
He said that the Belgrade government was also implementing an extensive program for the reconstruction of the areas mostly hit by NATO's air bombing campaign and particularly infrastructure and energy facilities.
 Greeks of the most ardent supporters of EU enlargement and integration
BRUSSELS, 09/02/2001 (ANA - B. Demiris)Greeks are among the most ardent supporters of the European Union's enlargement, the introduction of the euro and the establishment of a common foreign, defense and security policy.
According to an Euro barometer poll, conducted in all 15 Union member-states, 70 percent of the Greeks questioned supported the Union's enlargement, with Italian's placing second with 59 percent and the British at showing the least support with only 36 percent.
Regarding the euro, 70 of the Greeks questioned responded positively, out ranked by the Italians who gave a positive response at a rate of 79 percent and far ahead of the 21 percent of British citizens who voiced support for the common currency.
Of the 1,000 Greeks questioned 80 percent were in support of a common foreign, defense and security policy, compared with the Union-wide 65 percent.
 Mytilineos, Eurofighter in Dr 30 bln co-production deal
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)The Mytilineos Group, whose parent company is listed on the Athens bourse, has signed a memorandum of understanding for a co-production agreement worth 85 million euros (about 30 billion drachmas) with the consortium that produces the Eurofighter warplane, the Greek firm said in a statement on Thursday.
The memorandum signed in Germany sets the procedures, principles and rules of involvement by the Mytilineos Group and its subsidiaries in the Eurofighter program.
Among activities are the co-production of complete systems or sub-systems needed in the assembly and operation of the Eurofighter jet, the statement said.
 Clear Channel of US to create firm with Haidemenos
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)Clear Channel Communications of the US and the Haidemenos printing group are to set up a joint company named Clear Channel Haidemenos Media SA, the two firms said in a statement on Thursday.
The new enterprise will handle open-air advertising, operating in Greece, Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Yugoslavia, Montenegro and Cyprus.
Its paid-up capital totals 1,180 million drachmas with Clear Channel taking 51 percent stake and Haidemenos with 49 percent, the statement said.
 Ship owners seek realistic, national maritime policy
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)The Union of Greek Ship owners (UGS) on Thursday called on the government to establish a realistic, national maritime policy.
"Without underestimating the role of passenger shipping, the merchant marine ministry should not expend most its efforts on certain matters, at the expense of the whole of merchant shipping," UGS president Yiannis Lyras said.
Among problems Lyras cited were a shortage of officers, a recent bill allowing entry into the Athens Stock Exchange for cargo shipping firms, and difficulties faced by the Seamen's Pension Fund in recent years.
 Greece completes creation of EU project overseers
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)Greece has set up and staffed agencies throughout the country to oversee projects funded under the European Union's Third Community Support Framework package of funds, Deputy National Economy Minister Christos Pahtas said on Thursday.
The supervising agencies would see to it that projects were carried out on schedule, ending talk of delays in implementation, Pahtas said in a statement.
 National Bank, Microsoft to launch venture capital fund
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)National Bank and Microsoft said they would launch a venture capital fund, with an initial capital of 70 million euros, in April.
National Bank is the main shareholder of the fund with Microsoft its strategic advisor.
The venture capital fund will aim to finance information businesses' development at their first growth stage in Greece and to participate in their equity capital.
Microsoft's head for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Jean Philippe Courtois, said Greece did not lack the capital to fund information businesses, but the know-how on such matters.
Speaking to reporters, during a press conference to present the deal with National Bank, Courtois said the US company would not participate in the venture as a shareholder but as a technical advisor in the process of investment and evaluation.
National Bank's governor, Theodore Karatzas, said Greece's national economy and development ministries, along with private agencies, have already expressed interest to participate in the fund.
Karatzas also announced the creation of a new venture capital fund, with an initial capital of 50 million euros, to invest in new technology enterprises in the Balkans and the wider eastern Europe.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis was appointed chief executive at the bank's venture capital department, called National Business Holdings.
Courtois expressed his optimism over the development of new technologies in Greece, with growth rates particularly strong.
The mobile telephony penetration rate in Greece exceeded 50 percent - one of the highest rates in the world, with the Internet penetration rate at 10 percent, Courtois said.
The Greek computer market grew at a year-on-year rate of 49.5 percent in the third quarter of 2000, five times faster than the average growth rate in Europe (9.9 percent).
 Informer in supply deal with Stopanska Banka
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)Informer SA on Thursday said it has signed a deal with Stopanska Banka to supply computer systems the Skopje-based bank, a subsidiary of National Bank of Greece.
In a letter to the Athens Stock Exchange, Informer said the deal, worth 5.0 million US dollars, was expected to be completed in the next 18 months in cooperation with Planet, Ernst & Young and Ethnodata.
 CPI reports 28 percent increase in second half 2000 profits
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)CPI, a recently listed software company, on Thursday reported that its profits rose 28 percent to 513 million drachmas in the second half of 2000, from 400 million the previous year, while sales rose to 3.3 billion drachmas from 3.1 billion over the same period.
The company was founded 10 years ago and plans to expand both in the domestic and foreign markets.
CPI said capital raised during its initial public offering would be used to upgrade and expand its technological infrastructure, restructure its operations and to develop foreign markets.
 Selective buying pushes stocks higher on ASE
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)Selective buying in bank shares during the last half hour of the session, combined with a notable rise in turnover, pushed the general index above the 3,150-point level on the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday.
Traders said buying interest focused on National Bank and Alpha Bank shares, while telecommunications shares came under pressure.
The general index ended 0.88 percent higher at 3,157.52 points, with turnover an improved 91.66 million euros, or 31.23 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.93 percent higher at 1,843.23 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index jumped 1.98 percent to 332.05 points.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 6,952.79 +0.82% Leasing: 475.23 +1.10% Insurance: 1,244.78 +0.08% Investment: 1,279.06 +0.80% Construction: 1,283.24 +2.83% Industrials: 1,897.59 +1.17% Miscellaneous: 2,108.71 +2.64% Holding: 3,268.81 +1.66%
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks surged 4.28 percent to 253.65 points.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 296 to 42 with another 21 issues unchanged.
Hellenic Telecoms, Alpha Bank, National Bank, Panafon and Eurobank were the most heavily traded stocks.
Leading shares' closing prices (in euros): National Bank: 38.94 Alpha Bank: 33.98 Commercial Bank: 50.22 Eurobank: 20.56 Piraeus Bank: 14.64 Lambrakis Press: 10.42 Altec: 6.10 Titan Cement (c): 37.14 Hellenic Telecoms: 16.44 Panafon: 7.08 Hellenic Petroleum: 9.34 Attica Enterprises: 6.30 Intracom: 19.92 Minoan Lines: 5.10 Viohalco: 10.42 Coca Cola Bottling: 18.80
Equity futures end up, tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished higher on Thursday, in line with the bourse indices on which they are based, traders said.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 0.93 percent up, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 1.98 percent higher.
Turnover was 51.2 million euros on 7,410 contracts traded, the dealers said.
Bond prices drop in brisk trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Thursday finished lower in heavy trade focusing on 15-year paper, dealers said.
The new Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.35 percent from 5.32 percent a day earlier.
The yield spread over German bunds was 56 basis points from 57 basis points the day before.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 985 million euros (around 335.6 billion drachmas) from 967 million euros (about 329.5 billion drachmas)in the previous session.
Sell orders accounted for about 70 percent of turnover.
Euro/dollar reference rate set at 92.20 cents: The European Central Bank set its euro/dollar reference rate at 92.20 cents on Thursday, down from 93.25 cents the previous day, pushing the US dollar/drachma rate to 369.57 drachmas.
The ECB also set the euro/yen rate at 106.97 yen (3.18 drachmas), the euro/sterling at 63.55 pence (536.19 drachmas), the euro/Swiss franc rate at 1.5312 (222.53 drachmas) and the euro/Cyprus pound at 57.93 cents (588.20 drachmas).
 Greece, Syria to sign transport deal
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)Greece and Syria are to sign an agreement on deregulating bilateral road transportation permits when Transport Minister Christos Verelis pays an official visit to Damascus on March 21-24.
Inviting Verelis is his Syrian counterpart, Makram Obeid, who came to Athens in December.
The transport permits pact was initialed in Damascus last week by Greek and Syrian officials, who also discussed the possibility of commissioning a viability study on making ports in the two countries compatible through the creation of facilities for Ra-Ra and Ro-Ro ferries, container traffic and rail links.
The officials will discuss the project at a fresh meeting in Athens in October or November.
 Firms flock to government's InfoTech program
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)Around 11,000 companies nationwide have applied to join the development ministry's Networking program, which subsidizes the purchase cost of basic computer hardware, an internet connection and the creation of a web page for small and medium sized enterprises.
The ministry said in a statement on Thursday that one in four applications came from firms in Attica, one in five from central Macedonia, and one in 10 from Crete. Interest from islands except Crete accounted for 12 percent of the total.
The program has an initial budget of 31.5 billion drachmas, the statement said.
 Greek subsidiary of British Vodafon wins mobile phone license in Albania
TIRANA, 09/02/2001 (ANA-I. Patso)Britain based Vodafon won a mobile telephony license in Albania on Thursday, via an offer made by the company's subsidiary in Greece.
The Greece based subsidiary offered 38.1 million dollars for the license, plus advance technical know-how, winning the license over an Albanian company that offered 32.5 million dollars and a Turko-Finnish consortium that offered 25.3 million dollars for the license.
The British embassy in Tirana, confirmed that the company had a better offer since the first round of the Albanian government tender.
 Minister opens world cleaning materials trade fair
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)Minister of State Miltiades Papaioannou on Thursday launched Expo Clean 2001, an international cleaning materials trade fair held at the EKEP center on the Athens-Lamia highway.
The trade fair, which includes wares from companies in Greece and abroad, runs until February 12.
 Veterin to offer mad cow diagnosis products in Greece
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)Veterin SA on Thursday announced it has sign an exclusive dealership agreement with Swiss firm Prionics, a specialist in mad cow diagnosis products, for the next three years.
A company said that Prionics Check, a diagnostic test, a product authorized for use in Switzerland and Germany, was expected to meet heavy demand.
Veterin said it had the necessary scientific background to support the use of the diagnostic test.
 EU unveils new measures against mad cow disease
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)The EU Commission's decision on Wednesday to introduce three new measures to prevent exposure to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), including removal of vertebral columns from all slaughtered cattle more than 12 months old, was outlined here on Thursday.
Two Commission spokespersons, representing the agriculture and health commissioners, respectively, answered reporters' questions during an EU-wide satellite-linked news conference.
Along with the removal of vertebral columns, mechanically recovered meat (MRM) from the bones of ruminants will also be forbidden, with the Commission advising that the MRM ban be extended to sheep and goat bones as well.
The other two measures include heat treatment - at 133C degrees and three bars of pressure for 20 minutes -- for ruminant fats (tallow) used in livestock feed as well as suspension of the use of certain animal proteins, mostly meat and bone meal, in animal feed. Hydrolyzed proteins were identified as one of the exceptions.
Asked by the ANA about the Commission's current position on the distribution, allocation and consumption of sheep and goats' entrails and offal - a particularly sensitive issue in Greece, where certain traditional delicacies use sheep intestines (kokoretsi) and liver (mayiritsa) - EU Commissioner David Byrne's spokeswoman Beate Gminder said such items were considered "risk material" and should be avoided as a "precaution".
However, she emphasized that naturally occurring BSE symptoms have never been detected in sheep or goats, whereas the Commission is about a week away from unveiling an "action plan" in the unlikely case that BSE is diagnosed among non-bovine livestock.
The argument on whether consumption of BSE-infected meat is linked to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a brain-draining and fatal affliction affecting humans, is still undecided, although public health concerns and consumer advocates have brought the debate onto Europeans' dinner tables in a most direct way.
Agriculture minister expresses dissatisfaction over European Commission's decision on mad cow disease: Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis on Thursday expressed strong dissatisfaction over the European Commission's decision on measures to protect consumers from the mad cow disease, emphasizing that no case of spongiform encephalopathy has been recorded in Greece. He said he would attempt to reverse the decision at the next Council meeting.
The EU is proposing a series of measures to the Council of Agriculture Ministers to prevent spongiform encephalopathy from spreading among bovines. However, Sweden, Finland and Austria are being excluded from the measures as having recorded no case of the disease.
The relevant issue was raised by the fact Greece failed to send information requested by the Commission. Namely, the results of checks and the relevant preventive program implemented by the country.
 Funeral service held for composer Xenakis in Paris
PARIS, 09/02/2001 (ANA)A sober ceremony set at the music of Brahms, Schubert, a Byzantine church hymn and a northwestern Greek folk song was held for the funeral of noted composer Iannis Xenakis.
He died on Sunday at the age of 80 in Paris, his adopted hometown for several decades, following a long illness.
A crowd of French and Greek officials, as well as admirers of the composer participated in the cremation ceremony, he requested before his death.
The ceremony took place at the Pere Lachaise cemetery.
Born into a wealthy Greek family of Romania, Xenakis fought with the resistance during the Nazi occupation of Greece (1941-44), losing an eye during battle. He was expelled from Greece in 1947 for his political views at the height of the Greek Civil War and sought refuge in France, becoming a naturalized French citizen in 1965.
 Russian national sentenced to 14 years in prison in Greece
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)A northern Greek court on Thursday sentenced an alleged Russian mob killer Vladimir Tatarenkof to 14 years and four months in prison and a fine of 250,000 drachmas on charges of illegal possession of weapons and forgery.
Tatarenkof was arrested in possession of false documentation presenting him to be an émigré of Greek origin, from the former soviet union.
According to authorities, Tatarenkof will be extradited to Russia when he serves his term in Greek prisons if Greek courts of the aforementioned crimes convict him.
In Russia he is expected to face multiple charges of murder and he has been on the wanted list of the Interpol for some time.
 Fog disrupts flight schedules in Thessaloniki, airplane turned back hen landing gear stuck
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)Flight schedules were once again disrupted by early-morning fog in Thessaloniki's "Macedonia" airport on Thursday, with one Olympic Airways flight to Athens cancelled and delays in morning flights by Aegean and Cronus airlines.
In Athens, meanwhile, an Olympic Airways flight to Melos was forced to turn back on reaching the island on Thursday morning because the pilot was unable to lower the landing gear. He was ordered back to Athens by the Athens Air-traffic Control Tower, where he managed to lower the landing gear manually and landed safely.
 First Greek film screened at 51st Berlin Film Festival
BERLIN, 09/02/2001 (ANA - N. Mikelidis)The first Greek film to be shown in the 51st Berlin Film Festival, the award winning "Closed Roads" by Stavros Ioannis, is to be screened here on Thursday night in the festival's Panorama section. The film deals with the problems of a group of Kurdish immigrants in Greece and was awarded by Greece's Thessaloniki film festival.
 Spanish ambassador presents book on Spanish royal couple's visit to Greece
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)Departing Spanish Ambassador to Athens Javier Jimenenez-Ugarte presented at the Foreign Press Association (FPA) on Thursday night a book he wrote focusing on the visit to Greece of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia of Spain two years ago.
The ambassador's book, entitled "The official visit of the royals of Spain to Greece" gave an account of the diplomatic effort made by both sides for the success of the Spanish royal couple's visit to Greece.
 Archaeological meeting reveals Pella region a trade and handicrafts center in Roman era
Athens, 09/02/2001 (ANA)The region of Pella, northern Greece, the former capital of the Macedonian Kingdom, had remained a trade and handicrafts center in the Roman era as well, according to information on archaeological research presented on Thursday at the 14th scientific and archaeological meeting on Macedonia and Thrace being held at the Aristotelian University in Thessaloniki.
Workshops involved in the mass production of urns and statues dating back to the 2nd century B.C. were recently discovered during archaeological excavations in the region of ancient Pella.
The new information provided by archaeological research attributes to the ancient Macedonian capital the characteristic of being a thriving city even after the fall of the Macedonian Kingdom in 168 B.C. and the Romans' prevalence.
 "Preliminary hearing" by Turkish Cypriot illegal "court" on case of abducted Greek Cypriot
NICOSIA, 09/02/2001 (CNA/ANA)A so-called "preliminary hearing" on the case of Greek Cypriot Panicos Tziakourmas, who has been abducted and is being illegally detained by Turkish occupation troops in the occupied areas of Cyprus, took place on Thursday at an illegal "court" in Famagusta.
Sources told CNA that during Thursday's "hearing", the so-called "prosecution" presented "evidence" regarding the case and the person who illegally "arrested" Tziakourmas was examined and cross-examined.
The same sources added that Tziakourmas' motion to be released on bail has not yet been examined, and it is presumed that this motion will be examined in the next few days.
The "preliminary hearing" will continue on Friday morning. Tziakourmas, a building contractor by profession, was taken by force on December 13 2000 as he sat in his car waiting to collect Turkish Cypriot workmen and take them to their workplace, as he used to do every day. He was led away and was later "detained" by the occupation regime, in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus, on "drug possession charges".
A recent reconstruction of the events by the British Bases showed beyond any reasonable doubt that Tziakourmas was abducted by force.
No traces of any drug were found in his car.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 President Clerides leaves for Athens on private visit
NICOSIA, 09/02/2001 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides leaves on Friday for Athens, for a five-day private visit, accompanied by his wife Irene.
On Monday, President Clerides will inaugurate the Museum of Ancient Cypriot Art and History at the "Pierides Museum".
President Clerides returns to Cyprus on Tuesday.