|Tuesday, 10 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-02-10
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 US Secretary of State expresses confidence in security of Athens 2004
WASHINGTON, 10/02/2001 (ANA - T. Ellis)US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Friday said he was confident Greek authorities would ensure that the Athens 2004 Olympic Games would be conducted in a «safe manner».
«I am confident that the authorities will do everything to make sure that the Games go off in a safe manner. And anything we can do to assist them with the experience that we have from the past or any other assistance we can give will be made available to the government. But I have confidence in their ability to make this happen,» Powell said responding to a relevant question during a press conference.
On Thursday, the US State Department 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 innuendoes 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.
 Prime minister rules out reshuffle, comments on India trip
DUBAI, 10/02/2001 (ANA - G. Papachristos)Prime Minister Costas Simitis ruled out all immediate, or even long-term, prospects of a cabinet reshuffle on Friday, when pressed by reporters accompanying him on his journey from India to the United Arab Emirates.
"Forget the reshuffle...at least for a very, very long time," he told reporters while on a flight from Bombay to Dubai.
When asked if he was satisfied with the government, he jokingly asked the reporter if he meant the government of India, where the resignation of two ministers on the day the Greek delegation arrived had gone almost unnoticed by the press.
"Perhaps they're just tired," countered one reporter.
"But we're not, at all. We're very alive and very dynamic. We have a lot of things to do and we will do them," the prime minister replied.
"For me to be so definite, it means that I am well aware what work needs to be done and that we can do it with this team," he added.
Regarding the results of his visit to India, Simitis said he was very satisfied and noted the mutual interest of Athens and New Delhi in developing bilateral ties.
He also referred to neighboring Turkey's efforts to develop ties with Pakistan and recently India itself.
Finally, he announced that Indian President Kocheril Raman Narayanan would be making an official visit to Athens on April 23.
PM Simitis returns to Athens after five-day official visit to India: Prime Minister Costas Simitis returned to Athens on Friday night at the end of a five-day official visit to India.
Simitis, who was accompanied by Press Minister Dimitris Reppas and Alternate Foreign Minister Elizabeth Papazoi, left from Bombay, the last stop in his visit to the country.
 Greek FM meets Cypriot counterpart in Athens to discuss Cyprus problem, EU accession
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Cypriot counter-part Ioannis Kasoulides met in Athens on Friday to discuss progress in a solution of the Cyprus problem and Cyprus' course to joining the European Union.
In statements after the two-hour meeting, which they said formed part of regular consultations between Athens and Nicosia to coordinate strategy, both men urged Turkey to support the UN-sponsored Cyprus proximity talks in accordance with the decisions of the EU summit at Helsinki and the EU-Turkey partnership agreement.
The Greek foreign minister also announced that he would be making a return visit to Nicosia on March 11-13.
Papandreou noted that developments on a European level were rapid and that this should, sooner or later, "act as a catalyst for the solution of the Cyprus problem."
He pointed out, however, that the EU Helsinki Summit had made it clear that Cyprus' EU accession was not in any way linked to a solution of the political problems on the island, though this would be desirable.
He then referred to a "historic opportunity" that the Turkish-Cypriot side should take advantage of and expressed regret at its "refusal to understand this reality."
He reiterated Greece's support for the efforts of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to achieve a just solution based on the resolutions of the Security Council and UN and reminded those present about the important developments at the EU Nice Summit, both in terms of an appeal to all the sides involved to contribute to a solution of the Cyprus problem and preparations for a new EU treaty in view of Europe's enlargement.
Kasoulides concurred with him that the situation regarding the Cyprus problem could change "from one minute to the next" and underlined that the leader of the Turkish-Cypriot regime, Rauf Denktash, should take part in the next round of proximity talks and continue the process interrupted last November.
He also pointed out that Turkey was committed to supporting the talks under paragraph 9 of the Helsinki Summit conclusions and on the basis of the EU-Turkey partnership agreement.
The Cypriot minister referred to a letter sent to his European counterparts by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem before the partnership agreement was finalized, in which he had protested strongly that this should not refer to anything more than Turkey's support of the proximity talks.
Despite this, Kasoulides pointed out, Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit had been the first to support Denktash when he decided to pull out of the talks.
When asked why Athens and Nicosia did not protest at the stance of the Turkish-Cypriot side, Kasoulides said that the goal at present was for the talks to continue.
"We reserve the right, if Denktash continues to refuse up until the time when the UN Secretary-General's report is expected, to ask that responsibilities be attributed for the impasse."
Meanwhile, Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides is due to leave for Athens on Friday afternoon, the Cyprus News Agency reported, and will arrive in the Greek capital at 5:30 p.m.
British base territorial waters: The Cypriot minister also responded to questions regarding the territorial waters of British bases on the island, by saying that the issue should never have been raised in public and that these were "not matters open to public discussion."
The issue arose through statements made by British High Commission spokesman Jonathan Allen earlier in the week, regarding the territorial waters of two British bases, one in Dekelia and one in the port of Limassol.
Kasoulides questioned the High Commission's motives in making such an issue public and expressed hope that it was not an attempt to change the status quo on Cyprus as determined by the treaties of 1960.
According to Nicosia press reports, Allen said the two British bases each retain three nautical miles of territorial waters, while basing his assertion on the Zurich and London treaties.
Additionally, he claimed that London also has the right to extend the bases' territorial waters to 12 nautical miles, as guaranteed by International Law of the Sea.
"Up until today we have not chosen to extend our territorial waters to 12 miles," Allen was quoted as saying.
 FYROM FM downplays reports of imminent 'name' compromise, says solution must please both sides
SKOPJE, 10/02/2001 (ANA - M. Vihou)FYROM's foreign minister on Friday was quoted here as denying that any on-going discussions are underway over a rumored proposal by Athens for a solution to the decade-old 'name issue' dispute.
Minister Srgjan Kerim reportedly told the Skopje newspaper "Vetser" that all the recent press "interpretations are arbitrary fabrications."
Kerim was commenting on an article this week by the independent daily "Dnevnik", which cited what it called a Greek proposal for a solution to the "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, "Dnevnik" cited Athens' promises of wide-ranging political and economic aid 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.
However, Kerim said negotiations between Greece and FYROM remain at the procedural level, although ongoing talks are "open and fruitful, without suspiciousness."
The FYROM FM added that any solution must be acceptable to both sides.
A Greek government spokesman was also quoted by "Vetser" as saying that rumors over a change in the one-time Yugoslav republic's name are not true, while talks are continuing with Athens attempting to gain a comprehensive solution in the interests of both countries.
In Athens, the same spokesman, Telemachos Hytiris, told Greek reporters that the government wants the almost six-year round of negotiations over FYROM's name to end soon.
Hytiris said a resolution would aid stability in the region and upgrade bilateral relations. Asked about the possibility of an upcoming meeting between the prime ministers of the two countries, Hytiris said an announcement would be made if such a prospect appears.
Relations between Greece and FYROM have improved dramatically since they signed an interim agreement in New York in September 1995, under the UN's auspices. Under the terms of the agreement, Athens and Skopje are to proceed with discussions to find a mutually acceptable solution for the name issue.
Greek Chief of Staff to visit FYROM: Greece's chief of the National Defense General Staff (GEETHA), Lt.-Gen. Manoussos Paragioudakis, will pay a three-day official visit to Skopje next week at the invitation of his FYROM counterpart Lt.-Gen. Jovan Andrevski, GEETHA announced on Friday.
Paragioudakis, who was due in FYROM on Monday, would meet with the civilian and military leadership of the FYROM defense ministry to discuss issues of mutual military interest, the announcement said.
The Greek military chief would also attend a display exercise by the FYROM Armed Forces.
 Stray Turkish servicemen escorted home, apologize for inconvenience
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)Four Turkish nationals, including three military officers, detained in northern Greece after crossing the Evros River that divides the two countries were escorted back to Turkey on Friday morning, Greek military sources said.
The four Turks were arrested in a boat in the area of Peplos along the Evros River, constituting the natural border between Greece and Turkey, on Thursday night, the sources said.
The four are two army captains, a non-commissioned officer and a civilian who told Greek military authorities during questioning that they had lost their orientation and strayed into the Greek part of the river.
The sources said that the four were escorted back to Turkey on Friday morning, under a bilateral agreement between the two countries.
They said the four Turkish nationals apologized to the Greek authorities for the inconvenience they caused and thanked the Greek military authorities for their impeccable treatment.
 Turkish foreign ministry calls "positive" the outcome of border crossing by soldiers
ISTANBUL, 10/02/2001 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)The Turkish foreign ministry on Friday called a "positive event" the cooperation between Greece and Turkey in the return of four Turkish soldiers to their posts after they crossed the border into Greece on Thursday.
The four, two captains, a non-commissioned officer and an en-listed man were detained in northeastern Greece after crossing the Evros River that divides the two countries, near the Peplos area of Evros prefecture.
According to sources the four claimed that they lost their orientation and strayed into Greece.
"We consider positive the cooperation of the Greek authorities in this incident," a Turkish foreign ministry official said, adding that a relevant press release was issued by the ministry.
 Bulgaria's foreign minister meets Parliament speaker, Athens Mayor
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)The Balkans should be left to sort out their problems by themselves, without outside intervention that serves its own interests, Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis said on Friday after a meeting with visiting Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihaylova.
"The people of the region must solve their problems with respect for the principles of international law, sovereign rights, national borders and human rights, particularly those of minorities, but without outside intervention, which as a rule is self-serving, as the region's recent adventures have proved," he said.
Kaklamanis also criticized the Turkish Consulate in Thrace, saying that it was stirring up problems with the region's Moslem minority, disrupting social harmony in the region and undermining Greek-Turkish relations.
Mihaylova said that Athens and Sofia had similar views on many Balkan problems and said that Bulgaria "looked to the prospects for mutual assistance between the two countries and for cooperative relations of partnership in a rapidly changing world."
She also renewed an invitation to Kaklamanis from his Bulgarian counterpart to visit Sofia.
Earlier on Friday, Mihaylova had also met Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, who has recently announced plans to found a new political party.
Afterward, Avramopoulos said that Bulgaria was currently going through a very sensitive phase in its history but was on the road toward European Union accession.
He said he was certain that any problems would be overcome, because the new situation in the region contributed to rapprochement between the two peoples.
Responding to a Bulgarian television network on whether Greece might need workers from Bulgaria during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Avramopoulos said that the Games would surely provide opportunities for neighboring countries in the economy and tourism.
He added that Bulgarian help was a matter that would be examined by the Olympics Organizing Committee.
Balkan stability discussed by Bulgarian FM and ND's Karamanlis: Visiting Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihaylova was received here on Friday by main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis, with talks focusing squarely on the paramount issue of stability in the Balkans.
On his part, the ND leader expressed concern over the latest tension in southern Serbia, an area targeted recently by Albanian separatist gangs operating out of a demilitarized zone between Serbia proper and UN-administered Kosovo.
According to reports, the Bulgarian FM received assurances from Karamanlis of over his party's continued support for Sofia's EU and NATO prospects, something the Greek government also favors vigorously.
 Australian daily cites prospect of missile sale to Greece
MELBOURNE, 10/02/2001 (ANA - S. Hatzimanolis)A local press report here this week claimed that Australia's defense ministry is considering selling Greece an undetermined number of US-made AGM-142 "Popeye" air-to-ground missiles.
According to a report in the "Australian Financial Review", US defense contractor Lockheed has reportedly consented to initial talks between Athens and Canberra.
Australia's defense ministry had ordered 192 of the missiles in 1998 for its US-made F-111C fighter-bombers, the newspaper said.
 EU ministers discuss results of joint justice and law enforcement program
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)The Greek Ministers of Justice Michalis Stathopoulos and of Public Order Michalis Chrysohoidis participated in the two-day meeting of the European Union council of ministers in Stockholm to discuss the results of the enforcement of the joint policies as they were decided during the Oct. 1999 Tampere Summit.
The justice and public order ministers of the Union discussed the results of the enforcement of joint policies on asylum, migrant trafficking, sexual exploitation of women and children, the enforcement of the program of common jurisdiction of the court decisions on civil and commercial issues (Eurojust).
They also discussed the results of the cooperation on these joint policies with the candidate member-state, including Cyprus and Malta.
The ministers concluded that the Eurojust program and the widening of Europol's jurisdictions did progress with as satisfactory pace.
 Gianna Angelopoulos possibly next terrorism target, former ATHOC chief warns
MELBOURNE, 10/02/2001 (ANA-S. Hatzimanolis)Athens 2004 Olympics Organizing Committee (ATHOC) chief Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki could be the next target of the "November 17" terrorist organization, former ATHOC president Stratis Stratigis warned Friday on an inter-view with the Australian state television network ABC.
Speaking during an interview with the ABC program Foreign Correspondent to be broadcast next week, Stratigis revealed that he had received threats when he was ATHOC chief, according to a news item from the Australian news agency AAP.
"The Greek police took these threats very seriously and suggested to me that I have a bullet-proof car and guard," Stratigis said, adding that Angelopoulos also risked becoming a terrorist target.
"Their targets change from time to time," he added.
The AAP news item, by Greek-Australian journalist Anthony Stavrinos, also referred extensively to "November 17's" past activities and the measures taken by the Greek government to wipe out terrorism.
Acting government spokesman says continuation of discussion on terrorism of no use: Acting government spokesman Telemahos Hytiris on Friday said the continuation of the discussion on issues concerning terrorism, as media presents them either in the United states or Australia, is of no use.
He was referring to an interview former 2004 Athens Olympic Games Organizing Committee chief Stratis Stratigis had given to an Australian television network that his successor Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki could be the next victim of the elusive November 17 terrorist organization and that he himself had received threats.
Hytiris said Greece is taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety of the Olympic Games and added, replying to a question whether measures have been taken to protect Daskalaki, the services are doing their job.
Referring to comments by a US State Department spokesman on allegations made by former State Department official Wayne Merry on terrorism in Greece, Hytiris said the spokesman is keeping clear distances and the issue is over as far as the government is concerned.
 Leftist parties discuss possibilities of joint action
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) and Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) representatives met on Friday and discussed venues for joint political action.
Following the meeting the representatives said that they realized a convergence of opinions in several subjects, but ruled out the possibility of political cooperation on all issues, at this time.
 Armenian Popular Movement protests initiative by PASOK Moslem deputies against French National Assembly genocide decision
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)The Armenian Popular Movement in an announcement on Friday condemned the initiative of two PASOK Moslem deputies Galip Galip and Ahmet Mehmet to send a written protest to the French embassy in Athens on account of the French National Assemblys recognition of the Armenians' genocide by the Turkish people and their government during the 1915-1922 period, terming it "offensive and provocative."
"If Mr. Galip and Mr. Mehmet had taken this initiative as private persons we would only have pointed out that solidarity for crimes such as the genocide of the Armenians expresses their personal ethics. However, it is clear that the gentlemen in question used the capacity of a Greek deputy to attach importance to their initiative. We consider this act offensive and provocative for a Parliament which has condemned this crime and has endorsed a law paying homage to its victims every year," the announcement said.
Meanwhile, September 14 every year is set as Memory Day for the Asia Minor Greeks' genocide by the Turkish state.
Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Deputy Interior Minister P. Kaiserlis have already signed a relevant Presidential Decree, which has been forwarded to the President of the Republic.
 Greek deputy FM receives head of Albania's Human Rights Party
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)Bilateral cooperation between Greece and Albania were discussed on Friday by Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoris Niotis, who is responsible for issues dealing with expatriate Greeks, and the president of the Human Rights Party in the neighboring country, Vassilis Melo.
 Stephanopoulos in Preveza on Saturday
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos will arrive in the northwest coastal town of Preveza on Saturday to attend events celebrating the feast day of the town's patron saint.
 EU ministers expected to back Greek economic stability plan
BRUSSELS, 10/02/2001 (ANA/ B. Demiris)The European Union's finance ministers are expected to approve Greece's economic stability plan for 2000-2004 when they meet in the Belgian capital on Monday.
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou is to represent Greece at the meeting, which will also discuss the stability programs of other EU members.
On January 24, the EU's executive Commission endorsed the Greek plan in the form of a recommendation to the finance ministers, saying it complied with the requirements of the 15-nation bloc's Stability and Growth Pact and its broad economic policy guidelines.
The domestic stability program is based on a macroeconomic scenario aimed at assuring strong, investment-led growth.
At the same time, the plan's macroeconomic forecasts at the upper end of the ranges given are ambitious, according to the Commission.
The government balance is projected to show a surplus of 0.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2001.
The plan's budgetary consolidation strategy is based, as in the past, on high primary surpluses and a continuous reduction in interest payments, with the government debt ratio expected to decline by about 20 percentage points to 84 percent of GDP in 2004, the Commission said.
A key element in the program is the commitment to continuing structural reform in the economy.
Greece submitted its first stability program in December last year following an EU decision the previous June endorsing the country's entry into the euro zone on January 1, 2001.
Economic performance in Greece has in recent years been characterized by strong economic growth, high investment and improving employment, the Commission said.
Budgetary adjustment continued in 2000, supported by buoyant tax revenue, with the general government deficit estimated at 0.8 percent of GDP in 2000 against 1.2 percent targeted in the country's 1999 updated EU convergence program.
The strategy for budgetary adjustment of the stability program is centered on high primary surpluses, but also on fast declining interest payments.
But inflation prospects in the stability plan appear to under-estimate the risk of overheating of the economy, in a context of buoyant activity and easier monetary conditions, the Commission said.
In order to counter possible inflationary pressures, budgetary policy might prove insufficiently tight, the statement cautioned.
As a consequence, the Commission said it had repeated a recommendation already made for the adoption of clear and binding norms to secure current primary expenditure control.
A number of structural reforms had been introduced in Greece recently, including labor market changes. A reform of the social insurance system has been announced for 2001.
"The Commission takes the view that a bolder attitude in the reform effort would be beneficial for the Greek economy," the Commission said in a statement following its approval in January.
 Greek money supply growth exceeds target in 2000
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)Money supply growth exceeded an official annual target of 5-7 percent last year with the M4N index increasing by 10.4 percent in the period December 2000-December 1999, the Bank of Greece said on Friday.
The index, including notes in circulation, private savings in drachmas and foreign exchange, repos, bank bonds, mutual funds and state securities (with duration up to 12 months), slowed moderately in December from the previous month's 12.6 percent growth rate.
The average annual growth rate of the M4N index in the fourth quarter of 2000 also fell to 12.2 percent, from 12.7 percent in the previous quarter, reflecting a decline in the drachma value of foreign exchange savings (mainly due to a decline in the US dollar rate in December), but also a sharp increase in the December 1999 rate.
Money in circulation increased by 416 billion drachmas in December last year; down from a 606 billion-drachma increase in the same month in 1999.
Private savings in drachma and foreign exchange increased by 1.002 trillion drachmas, but their 12-month growth rate fell to 6.8 percent in December from 7.4 percent in November. Repos, however, fell by 726 billion drachmas in December.
 Greek industry's growth rate exceeds EU average
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)The Greek industry's growth rates significantly exceed the EU's average, a fact underlining Greek businesses' dynamism in a highly competitive environment, data from Eurostat and Greece's National Statistics Service showed on Friday.
The data, published by the Greek Union of Listed Companies, said that Greek industries recorded faster growth rates compared with their eurozone and EU-15 counterparts in November, a development likely to have a positive impact on listed companies' results.
Growth rates in the sectors of intermediate durable goods and capital goods substantially exceeded EU average rates.
The manufacturing products' price index increased by 8.8 percent in Greece in November, compared with the same month in 1999, up from 6.3 percent in the eurozone and 5.5 percent in the EU-15.
A survey, conducted by the Union of Listed Companies among the 312 listed enterprises and another 2000 non-listed companies in Greece, showed that a vast majority of them were expected higher dividend results in the years 2000 and 2001.
 Salomon sees Greek inflation declining in January
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)Greek consumer price inflation will drop to 3.5 percent in January from 3.9 percent in December, Salomon Smith Barney said in a market report to customers on Friday.
The report, signed by Salomon consultant Miranda Xafa, added that underlying inflation would continue to show upward pressure.
Turning to the Athens Stock Exchange, Xafa said that the market would have to live with low liquidity until the second quarter of the year, when the exchange is due to be classed by international houses as a mature market from its current status as an emerging market.
 Gov't says Preveza-Aktion bridge due in Aug.
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)The long-awaited undersea tunnel connecting Preveza with the Aktion peninsula will open in August, the government promised in Parliament on Friday.
In response to a tabled question by the main opposition New Democracy party, Environment Deputy Minister Nasos Alevras said the total cost of the project has reached the 28-billion-drachma mark. He also said delays in the tunnel's opening were due to the bankruptcy of one of the companies in the construction consortium.
On their part, several ND deputies charged severe delays in the project, while warning of the danger of flooding in the tunnel and a downgrading of the surrounding environment.
The one kilometer-long Aktion-Preveza underwater tunnel project was initially valued at 12 billion drachmas when it was signed in September 1994, with the first projected completion date after about three and a half years.
It includes a two-lane underwater tunnel that is 10.6 meters wide and about six meters high. Road access is provided at both ends, linking the project to the existing road network in the region.
The project was awarded in 1994 to Christiani and Nielsen-Teng S.A., a joint venture.
Finally, Alevras reiterated that another long-awaited infrastructure project in western Greece, a bridge connecting the Peloponnese with the western tip of mainland Greece, will be ready in the early part of the summer of 2004, a date preceding the summer Olympics in Athens that same August.
 Greece ranks 26th in information based systems economy
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)Greece ranked 26th in among 55 countries in information systems based economy, in a survey conducted by IDC/World Times Information Society Index (ISI), while Sweden has maintained its position as the world's dominant information economy.
Other countries within the top five shifted positions, however. The United States, which was second last year, fell to the number-four spot, and Norway, which was fourth in 2000, climbed to the number-two position. Finland was sandwiched between Norway and the United States.
The ISI ranks countries according to their ability to access and absorb information and information technology. The rating is based on four infrastructure categories: computer, information, Internet, and social infrastructures.
"The Internet had almost 100 million new users in 2000. Because of its importance and growth, we had to increase the weighting of the Internet-related ISI component for this year's rankings," said John Gantz, chief research officer at IDC.
The ISI credited Sweden, Singapore, and Australia with the highest Internet infrastructure scores. The United States, meanwhile, was at the 10th position.
The U.S. information infrastructure is rated 9th, while its social infrastructure ranks 17th. The countries with the strongest information infrastructure are Taiwan, the Netherlands, and Denmark. Norway, Hong Kong, and Japan have the strongest social infrastructure.
The fifth annual installment of the ISI tracks data from 55 countries that collectively account for 97% of the global GDP and 99% of IT expenditure.
 Gov't lowers airport modernization tax to aid tourism
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)The government is to lower its airport modernization tax, known as the "spatosimo", in order to make Greek airports more competitive for tourism, the national economy ministry said in a statement on Friday.
Tour operators and travel agents have complained that the tax coupled with high costs at Athens new international airport, due to open in March, will deter business.
The new, lower airport tax will be set at 12 euros for passengers flying to European destinations, and 22 euros for destinations elsewhere, the statement said.
The reduction is to be included as an addition to a government bill on real estate tax.
The cut will result in a loss of around 15 billion drachmas annually to state revenues, but aid the government's drive to lower inflation, the statement added.
Athens airport to rank 3rd in Europe cost wise, Salomon says: A new international airport for Athens, which is due to open in March, will be the third most expensive in Europe, Salomon Smith Barney said on Friday.
The international investment house noted in a market report to customers that due to high costs, the Eleftherios Venizelos airport was unlikely to become a hub for Middle Eastern air traffic, as originally planned.
The report signed by Salomon's consultant, Miranda Xafa, said that airlines would have to up their fares to meet the costs, hurting tourism to Greece.
Also on Friday, the government announced that it would reduce its airport modernization tax to 12 euros for European destinations and 22 euros for destinations elsewhere.
 World airline agency urges Athens to delay airport opening
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)The organization representing the world's airline industry urged Greece Friday to delay opening a new airport at Athens, citing major preparation problems.
The International Air Transport Association, or IATA, said Greece should push back the scheduled March inauguration because access roads and key facilities are not ready.
"Road access to the new airport is of major concern," IATA Director General Pierre Jeanniot, said in a statement released in Montreal, Canada.
"Clearly, the airport access toll way ... will not be ready for the opening," he said.
IATA officials inspected the new site at Spata, 15 kilometers (10 miles) east of the capital, earlier this week.
"While roads are a big concern, the problems do not stop there," Jeanniot said. "Very important support facilities such as catering, cargo and aircraft maintenance are (also) still far from finished."
The government has insisted there will be no delay in the airport's inauguration and that access roads will be ready in time. The opening date in March has not been announced.
Jeanniot did not suggest a new inauguration date.
Athens International Airport is currently located at the city's coastal suburb of Hellenikon. All commercial flights will move to the new airport when it opens.
 Greece's electricity utility PPC seeks expansion in telecommunications market
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)Public Power Corporation, Greece's electricity utility, seeks to obtain a general telephone services license through its subsidiary PPC Telecommunications SA, the utility's chairman Dimitris Papoulias said on Friday.
Speaking to reporters in Thessaloniki, Papoulias said PPC would submit an application in the next few days ahead of the liberalization of the domestic telecommunications market.
Papoulias also said that he expected developments next month in a search for an international partner to mark Public Power Corporation's entry into the telecoms market.
Commenting on an expected deregulation of Greece's electricity market, Papoulias said PPC, with its current restructuring program under way, had nothing to fear and forecast that the corporation would retain a 85-87 percent market share.
He said that a restructuring plan envisaged reducing PPC's workforce to 25,000, from 32,000 currently, through a gradual retirement program. "One new employer will be hired for every 10 retiring," Papoulias said.
He said that PPC was aiming to achieve a simultaneous listing of its shares in the Athens, New York and London stock exchanges. Public Power Corporation's flotation is expected in June.
 Papoutsis says no rush over Piraeus port sale
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis said on Friday that a part-privatization the government is planning for the Piraeus Port Authority should be accomplished correctly, and should not be rushed.
"We must take steps that are certain, and there is no need to hurry," Papoutsis told reporters after a visit to the port authority's offices.
He discussed with senior company officials a project to upgrade the port, including the construction of two quality hotels to help accommodate visitors to the 2004 Olympics to be hosted by Athens.
 Panafon-Vodafone wins Albanian GSM license
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)Panafon-Vodafone, a member of Vodafone International Holdings, won an international tender for the sale of a second GSM wireless license in Albania, offering a bid of 38 million US dollars.
The tended was held on Thursday and the license is under approval by the country's telecommunications authorities.
Fintur Holdings and Rumeli Telecom Albania also participated in the tender.
Nikos Avgerinos, international business activities' manager in Panafon-Vodafone, said the move was a first step towards implementing a long-term strategy aiming to expand in the Balkans.
Avgerinos said that the company's expertise in the Greek and international telecommunications market ensured the rapid completion of the project offering significant benefits both to its customers and shareholders.
 Commercial Bank launches Cyprus subsidiary
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)Commercial Bank aims to obtain a 6.0 percent market share in the Cyprus banking market with the launch of its subsidiary in the island republic, the bank's chairman Yiannis Stournaras said on Friday.
Presenting the bank's plans during a press conference, Stournaras said Commercial Bank plans to create a 45-branch network, to set up subsidiaries in all financial services and to list its shares in the Cyprus Stock Exchange.
Stournaras said the bank aimed to raise its assets to 712 million Cyprus pounds, with profits of 5.0 million pounds in the next five years.
Cypriot businessmen, N. Ktoridis, E. Paraskevaidis and D.Ioannou will participate in Commercial Bank's subsidiary's equity capital with stakes of 10, 10 and 5.0 percent, respectively.
Stournaras said the new bank will focus on retail banking, mutual funds' management, insurance, securities transaction and factoring.
Commenting on the importance of Commercial Bank's strategic partnership with French bank Credit Agricole, Stournaras said the cooperation in the sectors of money market management, bank assurance and investment banking has already shown a big progress.
 National Bank governor says negotiations for bank's participation in CosmoONE to end in two weeks
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)National Bank of Greece Governor Theodoros Karatzas and Deputy Governor Apostolos Tamvakakis on Friday confirmed the National Bank is interested in participating as a shareholder in the CosmoONE company (a subsidiary of CosmOTE which will be active in the electronic trade sector). They were speaking at a press conference held after the bank's board meeting in Thessaloniki, northern Greece.
Tamvakakis said "there was indeed an approach with OTE (the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization) and CosmOTE for us to participate in this new company, CosmoONE, primarily in the marketing sector. However, relevant negotiations are expected to be completed in about 15-20 days."
Speaking on the sidelines of the pres conference and referring to the National Bank's presence in southeastern Europe, Karatzas said the bank's interest is turned to Romania at present, where it is seeking ways of developing its network there.
During his stay in Thessaloniki, Karatzas held talks with Minister of Macedonia and Thrace George Paschalidis on issues concerning cooperation between the banking system and Greek businesses in the framework of reconstruction in southeastern Europe.
 Bank of Greece dismisses talk of euro selling
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)The Bank of Greece on Friday dismissed talk it was selling euros to restructure its foreign exchange reserves, talk that led to a sharp fall of the euro/US dollar rate to 91.33 cents, its lowest levels since January 25, in foreign exchange markets.
Nikos Garganas, the central bank's vice-governor, categorically rejected these talks - that emerged late Thursday in Asian markets - and said that the Bank of Greece sold euros on behalf of the Hellenic State.
The euro rebounded to 93.23 cents against the dollar after the Greek banker's comments.
Sources said the Bank of Greece, in cooperation with Greek commercial banks sold euros for dollars on behalf of the Hellenic State to repay interest in the country's external public debt. The same sources estimated the value of the transaction to around 100 million US dollars.
 ASE board approves marketing program
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)The Athens Stock Exchange's board on Friday approved this year's marketing program, the first such program to be approved in the Greek bourse.
The program aims to an in-depth development of the market, to promote dissemination of information and to support investors.
The program also includes a road show campaign of the market and listed companies abroad.
The first road show is scheduled for February 19-20 in Milan and Frankfurt, organized by Deutsche Bank.
 Greek stocks end the week with small gains
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)Equity prices ended the week mixed to higher on the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, as buying interest for medium capitalization stocks counterbalanced selling pressure on bank shares.
The general index ended 0.39 percent higher at 3,169.71 points, off the day's highs of 3,185.07, with turnover an improved 128.52 million euros, or 43.79 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.11 percent higher at 1,845.25 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index jumped 1.34 percent to 336.51 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks rose 0.69 percent to 255.39 points.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 266 to 63 with another 30 issues unchanged.
Sarandis, Unisystems, Alpha Bank and Alfa Alfa Holdings were the most heavily traded stocks.
Equity futures end mixed, roughly tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished mixed on Friday, roughly in line with the bourse indices on which they are based, traders said.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 0.11 percent up, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 1.34 percent higher. Futures on the former dropped, and rose on the latter.
Turnover was 49.56 million euros on 7,822 contracts traded, the dealers said.
ADEX reduces contracts' margin cover rate to 12 percent: The Athens Derivatives Exchange (ADEX) on Friday announced it was cutting the margin cover on future contracts in the FTSE/ASE Mid 40 index to 12 percent, from 16 percent currently. The new rate is effective on Monday, 12 February.
ADEX also said the from Monday the exchange would start visual transactions on options in the FTSE/ASE Mid 40 index.
Bond prices rise in moderate trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Friday finished higher in moderate trade focusing on 7-year paper, dealers said.
The new Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.34 percent from 5.35 percent a day earlier.
The yield spread over German bunds was 56 basis points, the same as the day before.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 545 million euros (about 185.7 billion drachmas) from 985 million euros (around 335.6 billion drachmas) in the previous session.
Buy orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.
Greece to auction 1.2-billion-euro 20year bond on Tuesday: Greece's Public Debt Management Organization will auction a 20year bond issue, worth 1.2 billion euros, next Tuesday, February 13.
The organization said the issue, maturing in October 22, 2019, will pay an annual fixed coupon of 6.50 percent. Settlement date was set Friday, 16 February.
Euro/dollar reference rate stable at 92.27 cents: The European Central Bank set its euro/US dollar reference rate to 92.27 cents on Friday, almost unchanged from Thursday's 92.20 cents, pushing the dollar/drachma rate to 369.29 drachmas.
The ECB also set the euro/yen rate at 108.30 yen (3.14 drachmas), the euro/sterling at 63.82 pence (533.92 drachmas), the euro/Swiss franc rate at 1.5348 (222.01 drachmas) and the euro/Cyprus pound at 57.95 cents (588 drachmas).
 Prosecutor files for retrial in attempted US consulate attack
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)A Thessaloniki appellate prosecutor on Friday ordered the retrial of a woman sentenced to a suspended jail term in relation to an April 1999 firebombing attempt against the US consulate in the northern Greek city.
The retrial motion was filed after a court in the northern border town of Kilkis slapped a five-month suspended sentence and three-year probation on 23-year-old Kaleanthi Aggelioglu for illegally possession explosive materials. The same court acquitted the college student of a felony count of endangering citizens' lives and two misdemeanors charges.
Police outside the consulate arrested Aggelioglu during an anti-NATO rally while attempting to detonate a makeshift bomb comprised of 15 camping gas canisters. Only canister eventually exploded, causing only minor damages and no injuries.
The first instance court initially accepted a defense plea that the act "could not have caused any harm to anyone".
In Athens, meanwhile, a government spokesman told a regular press briefing that both the first instance prosecutor and his colleague at the appellate level disagreed with the lenient sentence.
Spokesman Telemachos Hytiris said first instance court prosecutor Theodoros Demetriadis stated that a preponderance of evidence was produced at the hearing proving that even the blast from one gas canister could cause injury to human lives.
 Dion archaeologist announces discovery of Roman-era hotel or praetorium
Athens, 10/02/2001 (ANA)Archaeologists working on digs in Dion, Pieria claim to have discovered an unusual building that may have been the Roman-era equivalent of a luxury hotel.
Professor Dimitris Pantermalis, who has headed the excavations at Dion for the past 32 years, announced the discovery at the 14th Archaeological Symposium in Thessaloniki on Friday.
According to Pantermalis, the remains of the hotel complex were found in the center of ancient Dion and consist of a large building built around a central courtyard with several, equal-sized and well-appointed rooms next to a smaller building of lesser architectural merit and more humble fixtures. The building is also equipped with rooms for holding symposia and a sacrificial altar.
Nearby, meanwhile, archaeologists have discovered an inscription in Latin that names the donors of the equipment of a praetorium, followed by a detailed list.
Dated at around the 2nd century AD, the building is thought to be either a luxury hotel for state officials of the Roman Empire or else a Praetor's residence.
According to the professor, this is the first discovery of a building that retains all its original fixtures and is accompanied by a complete list of its equipment, so that its purpose and use is fully understood.
 Olympic Games to return to Greece in 2004, EU commissioner says
BRUSSELS, 10/02/2001 (ANA - B. Demiris)The Olympic Games will return to Greece the country where the true values of sports were born, European Commissioner Viviane Reding said on Friday, during a meeting of the European troika in sports.
The sports ministers of the European troika - that includes the current Swedish presidency, the French which preceded it and the following presidency to be exercised by Belgium - met to discuss ways to confront doping in sports.
Reding expressed the hope that 2004, the year of the Athens Olympic Games, be proclaimed as International Sports Year, as it has already been proclaimed European Sports Year.
The Commissioner also called for an end to doping by the year 2004, saying, however, that such hopes were overly optimistic.
 Theory that ancient Greeks discovered America first analyzed by Cypriot author
NICOSIA, 10/02/2001 (CNA/ANA)The theory that ancient Greeks discovered America was first analyzed in a book by Cypriot author Costas Socratous, "Troy, the Metropolis of Atlantis", which was published in 1995.
The book, with the revolutionary theory that Troy was not in Asia Minor, but in the Atlantic, between Europe and America, has reemerged after the recent publication of this theory by professor Enrico Metievic of the University of Peru.
Socratous told CNA that the Achaeans, having beaten the Trojans in battle, traveled to America and that both Homer and Plato narrate the same campaign, which was either called the Atlantic or Trojan campaign, as Troy was in Atlantis.
The Cypriot writer supports that Odysseus traveled from the Canary Islands to Gibraltar, past Sicily and Malta, to encounter Ithaca.
The winds then took him back to the African shores of Algeria, where the Lotus Eaters lived.
Odysseus then passed from Gibraltar once again and with the Ecuadorian Current arrived in Porto Rico, where the Cyclops lived.
His ships then reached Aeolia, New York today, where Zephyr, the western winds, blew towards Europe.
According to Socratous' theory, when Aeolos gave a bag containing stormy winds to Odysseus, the latter's ships, along with Zephyr and the Gulf Stream, passed close to Ithaca. Odysseus' companions then opened the bag of winds once again and returned to Aeolia.
Socratous supports that the island of Circe, where Odysseus' companions were turned into pigs by the magic herbs, is known today as Jamaica, and that Circe sent Odysseus to the Cimmerians, who lived among great rivers and fog, and did not see the light of day, which brings to mind extra-northern regions of the planet, where the Sun does not rise.
He says that Odysseus then returned to the island of Circe to bury a mate and then traveled to today's Miami, where his companions ate the bulls of Helios.
From there, Odysseus set sail again to reach the Sirens, today's Haiti, and then to today's Bahamas, where the tide sand his ship.
According to the theory, Odysseus then traveled to the island of Calypso, Cuba today, where he stayed for seven years, until the Gods ordered him to take a raft and go to today's Gulf of Mexico.
From there, Odysseus was sent rapidly by ship along the Gulf Stream and with the help of the Winds reached Ithaca.
Ancient writers describe the climate at today's Gulf of Mexico as tropical and hot, and Odysseus, although naked, was not cold.
However, when he reached Ithaca he asked for a second robe, although a fire was burning in the fireplace, which indicates that the two places were not close to one another.
Socratous supports that Atlantis, which was a huge island later covered by water from the melting icebergs, was situated between Europe and America, that Troy was in Atlantis not Asia Minor, and that the Atlantes and Trojans were the same people.
He also quotes Plato's description of the difficulty ships ran into in the muddy sea of Sargasso. Socratous says that huge masses of seaweed hinder the passage of ships from the area, which is the Bermuda Triangle in the sea of Sargasso, where Atlantis used to be.
In his book, Socratous points out that if Troy were in Hellespont, the Achaeans who besieged it would have returned to Greece, but in fact did not, noting that Mycenae, Argos and Sparta were actually on a different continent.
 World Council of Churches resolution on Cyprus
NICOSIA, 10/02/2001 (CNA/ANA)The World Council of Churches (WCC) has renewed its appeal for "justice, peace, reconciliation and the reunification of Cyprus", during a Central Committee meeting that took place in Berlin earlier this week.
In a resolution on Cyprus, the WCC also assures the people of the island and the Cyprus Church of its "continuing prayers that this long-standing conflict will soon be settled through negotiation and this last wall of separation in Europe finally will be brought down."
In December 1999 the UN opened proximity talks aiming at reaching a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus, divided since Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of its territory since 1974.
However, the effort now appears to have stalled because of demands by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for the recognition of the illegal regime in the Turkish-occupied areas and a change in the procedure followed by the UN.
 President Clerides departs for private visit to Athens
LARNACA, 10/02/2001 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides left on Friday afternoon for a private visit to Athens, accompanied by his wife Irene.
On Monday, President Clerides and Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos will inaugurate the Museum of Ancient Cypriot Art and History at the "Pierides Museum".
This is the first ever museum abroad dedicated exclusively to Cypriot antiquities and is part of Cyprus' contribution to the Cultural Olympiad building up to the 2004 Athens Game.
President Clerides returns to Cyprus on Tuesday.