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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-02-15

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greece announces tender for the construction of Olympic Village
  • [02] Premier urges ministers to speed up Athens 2004 project completion
  • [03] PM to give answers on Spata airport during PM's question time, Reppas says
  • [04] Article in US daily calls for pressures on Greece concerning terrorism
  • [05] Iraq situation touched on by Powell, FM Papandreou
  • [06] PM and Interior minister discuss local government funding with KEDKE
  • [07] ND Organizational Committee member leaves change of emblem option open
  • [08] Aegean minister to attend 'Thrace-Aegean-Cyprus' program meeting in Nicosia
  • [09] Cyprus House of Representatives Speaker Spyros Kyprianou discusses Cyprus issue with Papazoi and Kaklamanis
  • [10] ND Deputy Dora Bakoyianni says Cyprus' European vocation a one-way road for the island
  • [11] Nice Treaty to be accompanied by two contradictory statements on duration of next structural policy package
  • [12] FYROM's name should be close to constitutional form, country's premier says
  • [13] PM meets Education minister to discuss TEI bill; comments on UK 'overseas campus' degrees
  • [14] Europarliament approves aid to Turkey, on conditions
  • [15] Israeli, Palestinian envoys outline positions; US, EU reps participate at Athens meeting
  • [16] International conference urges Balkan states to adapt into modern world
  • [17] Greek foreign minister receives Czech deputies, discusses EU enlargement
  • [18] Papantoniou says 5.0 percent growth rate target feasible
  • [19] Funds amounting to 3.8 trillion drachmas to be provided for agriculture over 2001-2006 period from 3rd CSF
  • [20] Greek stocks move cautiously higher
  • [21] Fuel prices go up following int'l price hike
  • [22] Merchant Marine Minister urges consensus over passenger shipping deregulation
  • [23] Gov't extends deadline in Attica hotels tender
  • [24] Greece to complete creation of EU project oversees
  • [25] Parthenon's restoration to finish when Olympics begin, KAS says
  • [26] Earthquake rocks Igoumenitsa, tremors in Athens
  • [27] Athens municipal police to assume new police duties soon
  • [28] Book on Mt Athos monuments presented at Athens Academy
  • [29] Colin Powell expresses Bush government's full support for UN efforts to resolve Cyprus issue
  • [30] UNFICYP financial performance report

  • [01] Greece announces tender for the construction of Olympic Village

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    Greece will hold an international tender for the construction of the Olympic Village for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Deputy Labor Minister Christos Protopappas said on Wednesday.

    Speaking to reporters during a press conference, Protopappas said the project was well within deadlines, it proceeded in full transparency and was aiming to build the best Olympic Village ever.

    Protopappas said the government was also considering the day after the Olympic Games, since the village would house 2,300 families according to a government-sponsored housing plan.

    Protopappas said the project would focus on environmental protection, with the use of natural gas and underground electricity networks.

    "It is an important social policy intervention," he said.

    Workers' Housing Organization chairman, G. Papavassiliou, said the tender would include four subcontracts, worth 24 billion drachmas each. Total investment of the project, in the 30-month construction period, is estimated at 100 billion drachmas.

    The timetable of the project envisages: May 10, signing of contracts, October 2002, delivery of one-third of the houses, March 2003, delivery of another one-third, and August 2003, delivery of the remaining one-third.

    Infrastructure projects are expected to be completed in November 2003. The Olympic Village will be officially delivered to the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee in January 2004.

    [02] Premier urges ministers to speed up Athens 2004 project completion

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Wednesday called on ministers of his government to increase the speed for the completion of the Athens 2004 Games projects.

    This urgency was stressed during a meeting he held with ministers involved in projects related to the Games and the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki.

    Following the meeting, Daskalaki said that she hopped that all those "participating in this national effort, have full knowledge of the urgency of the issues of the Athens 2004 Games", adding that "time is our worst enemy".

    The meeting took place in light of the Thursday arrival of International Olympic Committee Vice-President Jacques Rogge.

    [03] PM to give answers on Spata airport during PM's question time, Reppas says

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will provide across-the-board answers regarding the new international airport at Spata during the next Prime Minister's Question Time in Parliament, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas announced on Wednesday.

    According to the spokesman, during the Friday session the prime minister will answer questions put by main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis and a question by PASOK MP for Attica Yiannis Yiannakis.

    Reppas was spoke disparagingly about the criticism regarding the new airport's operation, and reiterated that it was the largest developmental project in the country and the largest project of this sort in Europe.

    He added that it was "petty-minded" to focus on when exactly it would begin operating, whether it would be one week or the next.

    The government, he added, was doing everything in its power to deliver the new airport on time and to make sure it was safe for passengers and visitors.

    [04] Article in US daily calls for pressures on Greece concerning terrorism

    WASHINGTON, 15/02/2001 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    A former US embassy staff member who served in Athens stepped up his campaign to pressure the Greek government to catch the elusive November 17 terrorists with yet another stinging editorial in a US mass-circulation daily.

    E. Wayne Merry called for the barring of American athletes from the Athens 2004 Games if the members of the infamous terrorist group are not brought to justice.

    In an opinion piece published in the Boston-based "Christian Science Monitor", and entitled "Don't ignore Greek terrorism", Merry proposed that "the Bush administration must treat anti-American attacks in Greece as no different from terrorism elsewhere. To start, it should tell Greek leaders it could not certify Athens as safe for American athletes and fans during the 2004 Olympics if November 17 is not destroyed."

    "The danger of the national humiliation that would follow an American boycott should convince Athens at last that terrorism requires action rather than rhetoric. Greek authorities can deal with this problem if they want to, and Washington should make certain they do," he added.

    Merry accused Greek governments of a passive stance toward terrorism, stressing that since the "first attack ... more than 25 years ago, and the left/nationalist group called 'November 17' has remained active ... the group has tried to kill more than a hundred Americans. Sadly, five US Embassy officials are dead."

    "The toll is so low only because for years the US has spent more taxpayer dollars for diplomatic security in Greece than anywhere else in the world, money badly needed to protect other posts. In part because the US Embassy is a forbidding fortress, the terrorists have shifted their murderous attentions, killing British and Turkish diplomats and bombing the German and Dutch embassies," he added.

    Merry also recounted CIA Director George Tenet's response to relevant questions in the Senate, who referred to the "... major vulnerability" of the 2004 Olympics scheduled for Athens, saying Greek authorities "need to take this terrorist threat far more seriously than it's been taken in the past."

    [05] Iraq situation touched on by Powell, FM Papandreou

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    US Secretary of State Colin Powell was briefed on Athens' views regarding the Mideast situation by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou during a recent phone conversation, and while the latter was on an official visit to Lebanon.

    "Iraq was discussed as well," US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns confirmed on Wednesday.

    Burns made the comment at a one-day Athens seminar on Wednesday focusing on the Middle East peace process, organized by the Constantine Karamanlis Institute for Democracy.

    The envoys of Israel and the Palestinian Authority also spoke at the event, along with the Swedish ambassador on the behalf of the rotating EU presidency.

    Powell will soon begin a 10-day tour of the Mideast, taking him to several countries in the region.

    Papandreou visited Jordan and Lebanon on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

    [06] PM and Interior minister discuss local government funding with KEDKE

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    In a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou on Wednesday, the board of the Central Municipalities and Communities Union (KEDKE) asked the premier to intervene for the release of funds owed to local government by the ministries.

    They said that the funds were owed under the 'Kapodistrias' law and a special program for local government called EPTA.

    The prime minister also promised that the municipalities and communities would receive extra money from the convergence fund for water supply and sewage networks and biological treatment plants.

    Reportedly, it was also acknowledged at the meeting that nearly half of Greece's municipalities were ineffective and it was proposed that the problem be dealt with through inter-municipal cooperation to assist the smaller municipalities.

    The government and KEDKE said that their aim was to upgrade the services offered by municipalities in a planned and coordinated way - in fact, Simitis described the current period as a time of transition - and to promote decentralization and the devolution of responsibilities to local government.

    [07] ND Organizational Committee member leaves change of emblem option open

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    Commenting on main opposition New Democracy's upcoming party conference on Wednesday, a member of the conference's organizing committee, Marietta Yiannakou, did not rule out the possibility that it might discuss changing the party's emblem.

    Yiannakou, who is in charge of the program and communications, said that the issue had not been raised or discussed but added that anyone could put it at the conference itself.

    She said the organizational committee would examine all proposals for changes to the party's charter and program that will be put to a vote at the conference, but that no decision had yet been made on whether the organizational committee would support a joint proposal.

    ND internal elections to choose conference delegates will be concluded on Sunday, during which 30 prefectural committees will elect a total of 544 delegates.

    Elections were held in 41 prefectural committees last Sunday, with 523 delegates elected, including 157 women.

    [08] Aegean minister to attend 'Thrace-Aegean-Cyprus' program meeting in Nicosia

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    Aegean Minister Nikos Sifounakis is to carry out a four-day visit to Cyprus on February 18-21, it was announced on Wednesday.

    Both Sifounakis and Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Paschalidis will attend a ceremony opening the proceedings of a Mixed Committee meeting in Nicosia, which will assess funding applications for cultural and environmental projects under the "Thrace-Aegean-Cyprus" program.

    The meeting follows up on the July 8, 2000 signing of a cooperation protocol between Greece and Cyprus on the island of Limnos, which called for the continuation of the "Thrace-Aegean-Cyprus" program by the Aegean, Macedonia-Thrace and Cypriot Finance ministries.

    The program aims to underline the unity of the border areas extending from Thrace and the Aegean down to Cyprus by highlighting their common cultural heritage and environment, and will fund related projects in 2001 and 2002. The ministries said they had received 115 applications for funding, 90 in Greece and 25 in Cyprus.

    During his visit, Sifounakis will be meeting with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, Cyprus Parliament Speaker Spyros Kyprianou, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, the leaders of the island republic's political parties and the head of the Cyprus negotiating team for European Union accession, George Vassiliou.

    He will also be taken on a tour of the "green line" dividing Nicosia from the Turkish-occupied territories in the north and place a wreath on the grave of Archbishop Makarios. On Tuesday evening, at 7:30 p.m., he is to deliver a lecture on "Cyprus in the EU and the role of Greece."

    [09] Cyprus House of Representatives Speaker Spyros Kyprianou discusses Cyprus issue with Papazoi and Kaklamanis

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    Cyprus House of Representatives Speaker Spyros Kyprianou on Wednesday discussed developments concerning the Cyprus issue and the political situation prevailing in Cyprus with Alternate Foreign Minister Elizabeth Papazoi.

    Both expressed concern over the deadlock in proximity talks on the Cyprus issue and reviewed Cyprus' accession course to the European Union.

    According to reports, they agreed that Cyprus continues to be in first place among candidate countries for accession, but the next stage in the process will be the most difficult and Nicosia will have to make a great effort to maintain this position.

    Kyprianou briefed Papazoi on the political situation in Cyprus in light of the elections, terming it steady.

    Both briefed each other on their recent visits to Russia and agreed that Moscow supports Cyprus with the same steadfast positions.

    Kyprianou also held talks on the Cyprus issue with Greek Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.

    Kaklamanis said their meeting was productive since Kyprianou "has great experience in handling situations over the years, in critical periods, and is aware and monitors all the aspects of the Cyprus problem."

    He also expressed his emotion over Kyprianou's decision to quit his post as House of Representatives Speaker and referred to their long cooperation being the heads of the two Parliaments.

    On his part, Kyprianou said "I shall continue to struggle for my country as a member of the National Council, as well as a man and a citizen. It is an issue with which I involved myself all my life and it would not be possible for me to abandon it at this time. I shall continue to struggle with all until we achieve our target."

    [10] ND Deputy Dora Bakoyianni says Cyprus' European vocation a one-way road for the island

    NICOSIA, 15/02/2001 (ANA-G.Leonidas)

    Main opposition New Democracy party Deputy Dora Bakoyianni, addressing an event by the Cypriot Federation of Businesswomen and Women Professionals here on Tuesday night, said Cyprus' European vocation is a one-way road for the island, adding that this course is strengthened by Greece's support and undoubtedly it will be feasible due to the island's economic potential.

    Bakoyianni said Greece should make it clear to its European partners in time that it is impossible for the first wave of countries to join the European Union not to include Cyprus.

    "Greece should remind at every opportunity and in all directions that an essential ingredient for Turkey's entry into the European family is the reunification of Cyprus, its federalization and the coexistence of the two communities in a state of security, unity, peace and prosperity," she said.

    Noting that the solution to the Cyprus issue depends on the taking of relevant decisions by Turkey, Bakoyianni said Greece "is ready to use every legal means at its disposal", including the right of veto if the new accession wave does not include the Republic of Cyprus.

    "The island's economic potential, as well as the European vocation, create new preconditions for a solution to the Cyprus issue as well," she said, adding that the EU can function as an "umbrella" for the protection of the Turkish Cypriots' political and social equality in a federal Cypriot state.

    [11] Nice Treaty to be accompanied by two contradictory statements on duration of next structural policy package

    BRUSSELS, 15/02/2001 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)

    Two contradictory statements concerning the duration of the next structural policy package will finally accompany the Nice Treaty.

    Greece, Spain and Portugal, ascertaining that that the "15" do not all agree that the next financial package (after 2007) for structural policies should be of a seven-year duration, tabled a statement clarifying that "the next programming period for the structural policies should last seven years, just as the previous ones did."

    On the other hand, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Denmark mention in another statement that the duration of the next package has not yet been determined, adding that "the statement by the three Mediterranean countries is not binding for the European Commission."

    The new programming period, however, will begin in January, 2007, and until then it must be unanimously adopted in accordance with the Treaty.

    [12] FYROM's name should be close to constitutional form, country's premier says

    SKOPJE, 15/02/2001 (ANA - M. Vihou)

    The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) aims to achieve the acceptance of a name that is as close as possible to the one mandated by the country's constitution, FYROM Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, said on Wednesday.

    We are "aiming at a name as close as possible to the constitutional name of our country," he said, adding that he was sad that the media did not pay attention "to the backtracking that took place, regarding the name, years ago".

    He also said that the negotiations with Greece aimed to correct the "shameful adaptation of the name FYROM".

    In a related development, a local newspaper quoted the spokesman of FYROM's delegation relegated to discuss the name issue with Greece in New York, saying that the constitution of FYROM mandates a two-thirds majority in Parliament for the approval of a name-change.

    [13] PM meets Education minister to discuss TEI bill; comments on UK 'overseas campus' degrees

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis met Education Minister Petros Efthymiou on Wednesday to discuss a bill for upgrading qualifications from Technical Educational Institutes (TEI) to the same level as university degrees. Another issues discussed at the meeting, which had been arranged in January, was that of the answer received by a Greek Euro-deputy from European Commissioner for internal markets Frits Bolkestein regarding the non-recognition by Greece of degrees awarded by UK universities to 'overseas campus' students through a franchising system.

    Emerging from the meeting at the prime minister's residence, Efthymiou said the bill for TEIs was supported unanimously by the Cabinet and by society.

    Regarding the reactions of TEI teaching staff to certain articles within the bill, the minister said they would be invited to enter into dialogue on these issues and stressed that no one would lose their job.

    TEI teachers object to a fourth ranking for TEI staff added by the bill, which they say is not justified. They intend to take their grievances to the prime minister, the leaders of the political parties and the education minister himself.

    Regarding the UK university degrees obtained through private institutions with a franchise in Greece, Efthymiou said the government's position was absolutely clear and that the degrees from such institutions would not be recognized.

    In response to a question by Greek Euro-deputy Alekos Alavanos on Monday, European Commissioner for internal markets Frits Bolkestein had said that Greek students from such private institutes should go to court to demand recognition of their degrees.

    The minister reiterated the position expressed on Tuesday by government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, namely that the wrong Commissioner had been asked and the wrong answer had been received.

    "These study centers come under the auspices of the Trade ministry. They operate as service providers and their qualifications are valid in the free market. There is no chance of this qualification being recognized as a degree. Greek law and the Greek Constitution take precedence over every other approach, especially when it is made without the proper authority. Bolkestein is commissioner for internal markets, customs and taxes. The franchising policy is not linked to the providing opinions," he said.

    [14] Europarliament approves aid to Turkey, on conditions

    STRASBOURG, 15/02/2001 (ANA - O. Tsipira)

    The maintenance of a "calm climate" in the European Union-Turkish relations is of strategic and economic necessity, Eurodeputy Hannes Svoboda said on Wednesday.

    Svoboda, the Europarliament's foreign affairs committee rapporteur, said that "three are the reasons that maintain the interest of EU toward Turkey: its strategic (geographical) position, the fact that is must be the dam to Islamic movements and clearly economic reasons".

    "All of us should be very careful to maintain a calm climate, anything else would be stupid and counterproductive," he said, stressing, however that the funding approved on Wednesday by the Union to Turkey did not mean a speedy accession to the Union.

    He reiterated the three conditions of the Europarliament for Turkey's EU accession, which he said, are respect for the human rights of minorities, an end of the role of the military in the political life of Turkey and a solution of the Cyprus issue. He also noted the EU call for good neighborly relations of Turkey with Greece.

    He made this point when asked to give a date for the initiation of Turkey's accession talks, saying "I can not tell you. Some of the opinions heard in Turkey, that they will make it in one or two years, are probably illusions."

    "I believe that, if it proves to be unattainable within five years of this partnership relation to arrive at an adequately positive result so as to begin accession negotiations, then we should consider a different form of cooperation," Svoboda said.

    On further comments regarding Cyprus he said that during his last visit to Turkey "he noted a more realistic base concerning the Cyprus problem by the Turkish government", adding that the Turkish military forces should withdraw from the island republic as part of a general demilitarization of effort, noting that not all members of the Turkish government agree with the unyielding opinions of Turkish Cypriot community leader Rauf Denktash.

    Heads of European Parliament political groups note "positive spirit" of report on financial aid to Turkey: The heads of European Union political groups and certain Eurodeputies on Wednesday noted the "positive spirit" of the Foreign Affairs Committee's report on financial aid for Turkey, ratified by a European Parliament plenum and proposed by Austrian Eurodeputy Hannes Svoboda.

    A special amendment contained in the report was an exception since it proposes that "in order to safeguard the principle of equal treatment for all candidate countries, Turkey should also be included in the ISPA and SAPARD pre-accession support programs."

    The amendment, finally ratified with a vote, was severely criticized since a similar proposal for Cyprus and Malta had been rejected in the past.

    The Christian Democrats, the United Left and Commissioner Gunter Verheugen opposed the amendment.

    Main opposition New Democracy party Eurodeputy Kostis Hatzidakis said the reason for rejecting the amendment is technical in principle since the budget for the ISPA and SAPARD programs has been determined by the Berlin agreement and cannot be increased. Consequently, he added, the only way for Turkey to be included is through a decrease in the share of eastern and central European countries.

    The head of the PASOK party's Eurodeputies, George Katiforis, underlined Turkey's backtracking after the EU Helsinki summit, saying "it gives the impression that instead of approaching it is distancing itself from Europe's democratic principles."

    [15] Israeli, Palestinian envoys outline positions; US, EU reps participate at Athens meeting

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    The struggling Mideast peace process came under scrutiny during a one-day meeting here on Wednesday, with both the Israeli and Palestinian envoys speaking just hours after a bus driven by a Gaza man rammed into crowded bus stop south of Tel Aviv in an apparent revenge attack.

    Eight Israelis were killed and another 17 were injured when a Palestinian driver, who was later arrested after a 30-km car chase, ploughed into a bus stop used mainly by Israeli military personnel. The deadly incident came one day after two Israeli helicopter gun ships targeted a high-ranking cadre of Yasser Arafat's security detail, blowing up the man in his car with a laser-guided missile.

    "Are we witnessing a historic missed opportunity for peace with the Palestinians?" Israeli ambassador Ran Curiel asked rhetorically, before adding: "Does Israel have a viable partner for peace in the current Palestinian Authority?

    "The major concessions offered by (then Israeli PM) Mr. (Ehud) Barak and the Palestinian reaction to them, unfortunately, revealed that the Palestinian vision for peace up till now doesn't accommodate the existence of Israel as a Jewish state," he charged.

    "When you sell tough and uncompromising talk to your own people, then compromise is virtually impossible," he said, while charging that Wednesday's bus stop carnage stems directly from the "premeditated support for violence by the Palestinian Authority". Conversely, Palestinian Authority envoy Abdullah Abdullah tersely noted that "violence breeds violence", before blaming consecutive Israeli governments for signing a series of peace deals over the years "but never implementing even one".

    Abdullah pointed squarely at Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon's visit to the sacred Temple Mount or al-Haram al-Sharif site in Jerusalem last September -- when he was at the time Israel's opposition leader -- as causing the latest wave of violence, adding that Sharon's "provocation" came despite what he said were warnings by Yasser Arafat and the Clinton administration.

    The Palestinian envoy reiterated that successful peace negotiations must revolve around two principles, which he said are "land for peace" and respect of UN resolutions 242 and 338.

    "They wanted to change the rules of the game in the middle of the process ... who will guarantee that the Israelis implement the agreements they sign," he stressed, mentioning among others, the right to safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank.

    Curiel, meanwhile, blamed Arafat for leading what he termed a Palestinian Authority that is "anything but democratic" and plagued by corruption as well as a lack of respect for its own people's human rights.

    "... the events over the past few months and the election results in Israel showed that a majority of Israelis support peace and are willing to make large-scale compromises for its achievement. They also showed that most, if not all Israelis, say no to violence and terrorism, and aren't willing to tolerate or negotiate under its shadow."

    Besides Curiel and Abdullah, US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns outlined Washington's paramount role of "peace brokering" in the Middle East, while Swedish ambassador Bjorn Elmer spoke on the behalf of the European Union's current presidency.

    Less than a month after the Bush administration was sworn in, the veteran US ambassador spelled out several points Washington holds significant for the Middle East peace process, including: the significance of a Mideast breakthrough for Europe and the world peace; employing a violence-free framework that allows for compromise and negotiations; shared land for Israel and the Palestinians; both sides should make it desirable for the other to sit down at the negotiating table; dealing with the Mideast as a whole, as well as direct US engagement in the peace process.

    Burns emphasized that Washington will never abandon Israel or allow any threat to the Jewish State, while also stressing at the same time that it wants to help the Palestinians.

    Finally, Swedish ambassador Elmer noted that the Middle East remains high on the EU's agenda, saying the Union trusts that the peace negotiations will continue and "hopes that Sharon will keep up the momentum".

    He also said the basis for any future peace deal should be international law and respect for UN resolutions 242 and 338, while referring to Israel's "illegal settlement policy" as contributing to the latest crisis.

    "The occupation must be ended ... a democratic and vigorous Palestinian state must be created," the Swedish envoy said.

    The Athens-based Constantine Karamanlis Institute organized the meeting for Democracy, a non-profit foundation founded a few months before the long-time Greek statesman's death in January 1998.

    [16] International conference urges Balkan states to adapt into modern world

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    Balkan states are facing a challenge to adapt their social and political practices into the demands of globalization and modernization.

    That was the message sent to Balkan states by a 3rd Annual Conference on the region organized by the Kokkalis Program on Southeastern and Central eastern Europe at the Harvard University.

    Speakers at the conference stressed that stabilizing parliamentary democracy was a first significant step, but the caging of the region to economic underdevelopment, crime, corruption, lack of a fair state and human rights and regional security issues, were probable threats to the region.

    The conference's aim was to bring in contact new researchers from all social and political sciences regarding the Balkans.

    [17] Greek foreign minister receives Czech deputies, discusses EU enlargement

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday received a delegation of Czech parliament deputies who are in Greece on an official visit, and discussed European developments, focusing on the European Union's enlargement process.

    The four deputies are members of the Czech parliament's foreign affairs committee and discussed the aforementioned subject, as the Czech republic is one of the countries expected to join the Union among other six nations of the first enlargement wave. At this time the Union has accepted 12 candidacies for accession, including that of Turkey's.

    [18] Papantoniou says 5.0 percent growth rate target feasible

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    Greece's National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Wednesday said he was optimistic over the country's economic trends, following Greece's entry in the eurozone and said a 5.0 percent growth rate target was fully feasible.

    "Greece, ahead of the year 2004, is developing into the more dynamic economy in the European Union," Papantoniou said.

    He repeated his call for real convergence and said that the average income of the Greek citizen has increased from 62 percent of the average European citizen in 1993 to 70 percent last year.

    Papantoniou stressed the importance of adopting new technologies through a government-sponsored program to set up a New Economy Fund to promote business activity in the sector, and implementing an "Information Society" project, worth one trillion drachmas.

    Addressing an annual general meeting of the Union of Greek Banks, Papantoniou said that banks' internal restructuring would contribute in improving their efficiency and to close the gap between lending and savings interest rates.

    "There is still room for progress in the sector," he said.

    Theodore Karatzas, the Union's chairman and National Bank of Greece governor, sounded a reluctant note over government plans to deal with the problem of penalty interest rates imposed by commercial banks on unpaid debt.

    "Recent measures in favor of a relatively small percentage of debtors is an uneven treatment against the majority of bank customers," Karatzas told the meeting.

    He said that commercial banks have written-off more than 650 billion drachmas in unpaid debt in the last five years.

    [19] Funds amounting to 3.8 trillion drachmas to be provided for agriculture over 2001-2006 period from 3rd CSF

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    Funds amounting to 3.8 trillion drachmas will be provided for the agricultural sector over the 2001-2006 period in the framework of the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF), the Lintner and water resources programs and the informatics society.

    Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis said 100 billion drachmas have already been disbursed for programs, while all the operational programs submitted to the European Union have been approved without any change being made.

    Anomeritis has signed the three first ministerial decisions on the disbursement of funds and said managing authorities will be established in March and the implementation of ratified programs will begin.

    Funds from the 3rd CSF exceed 2.5 trillion drachmas, while 1.1 trillion of this amount comes from the EU and the rest from national resources.

    [20] Greek stocks move cautiously higher

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    Equity prices moved cautiously higher on Wednesday with buying interest focusing on small and medium capitalization stocks on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Dealers said the general index managed to claw back above the 3,200 level after eight sessions and expressed their satisfaction over the quick absorption of two waves of profit taking during the session.

    The general index ended 0.47 percent higher at 3,211.32 points, with turnover a moderate 122.47 million euros, or 41.73 billion drachmas.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.56 percent higher at 1,868.91 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index jumped 2.74 percent to 357.51 points.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Bank: 6,964.16 +0.27% Leasing: 505.76 +0.83% Insurance: 1,263.16 +0.59% Investment: 1,286.97 -0.53% Construction: 1,372.77 +3.08% Industrials: 1,964.97 +0.72% Miscellaneous: 2,286.91 +3.01% Holding: 3,389.24 +0.36%

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks jumped 4.02 percent to 271.11 points.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 264 to 66 with another 30 issues unchanged.

    Hellenic Telecoms, Panafon, National Bank and Cosmote were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Leading shares' closing prices (in euros): National Bank: 38.96 Alpha Bank: 33.46 Commercial Bank: 50.76 Eurobank: 20.68 Piraeus Bank: 14.86 Lambrakis Press: 12.30 Altec: 7.00 Titan Cement (c): 37.92 Hellenic Telecoms: 16.62 Panafon: 6.98 Hellenic Petroleum: 9.68 Attica Enterprises: 6.72 Intracom: 20.66 Minoan Lines: 5.14 Viohalco: 10.68 Coca Cola Bottling: 18.92

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

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 0.56 percent up, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 2.74 percent higher.

    Turnover was 57.8 million euros on 9,050 contracts traded, the dealers said.

    Bond prices drop in heavy trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Wednesday finished lower in heavy trade across the board, dealers said.

    The new Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.34 percent from 5.31 percent a day earlier.

    The yield spread over German bunds was 56 basis points from 55 basis points the day before.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 1.01 billion euros (around 344 billion drachmas) from 890 million euros (about 303.2 billion drachmas) in the previous session.

    Sell orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.

    Euro/dollar reference rate set at 91.78 cents: The European Central Bank of Wednesday set its euro/dollar reference rate at 91.78 cents, down from 92.75 cents the previous day, pushing the US dollar/drachma rate to 371.26 drachmas.

    The ECB also set the euro/yen rate at 106.61 yen (3.19 drachmas), the euro/sterling at 63.06 pence (540.35 drachmas), the euro/Swiss franc rate at 1.5355 (221.91 drachmas) and the euro/Cyprus pound at 57.94 cents (588.10 drachmas).

    [21] Fuel prices go up following int'l price hike

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    Suggested weekly retail prices for gasoline, heating oil and diesel rose this week, following an increase in prices internationally.

    Specifically, super and unleaded petrol prices increased by 3.3 drachmas per liter, and 8.3 drachmas per liter for diesel. The suggested weekly retail price for heating oil, meanwhile, surged upward by 9.9 drachmas per liter.

    In the greater Athens area and Thessaloniki prefecture, super will sell for 254.6 drachmas (?0.75) per liter; 241 drachmas (?0.71) for unleaded; 213.3 (?0.62) for diesel and 114.7 drachmas (?0.34) per liter for heating oil.

    The government announces indicative prices every Wednesday, effective for one week. (The fixed exchange rate for drachmas/euros is 340.750 dr. for one euro).

    [22] Merchant Marine Minister urges consensus over passenger shipping deregulation

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    Greece's Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis on Wednesday urged for consensus on a new bill envisaging the deregulation of the domestic passenger-shipping sector.

    Presenting the basic principles of the new bill, Papoutsis said: "The new regulatory framework on passenger shipping is of national interest. I will seek in parliament the greatest possible consensus. We are open to dialogue and will hear all views."

    Papoutsis said the ministry's basic commitment would be to promote healthy competition and protecting the public interest.

    A dialogue on the deregulation of the domestic passenger-shipping sector has lasted eight years, Papoutsis said.

    "Deregulation does not mean lack of control," he noted.

    The ministry's plan envisages that following deregulation (expected in November 2002), passenger-shipping lines will be approved based on stricter conditions regarding the vessels' operation, harbor conditions and ship crew.

    "I am certain that deregulation of the sector will increase the number of vessels and the number of jobs for Greek sailors," Papoutsis said.

    The plan also envisages a full deregulation in passenger shipping fares, with the probable exception of economy class fares, abolishing shipping licenses and imposing a surcharge on shipping fares to fund unprofitable lines.

    [23] Gov't extends deadline in Attica hotels tender

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    Development Minster Nikos Christodoulakis said on Wednesday that he was extending until February 21 the deadline in a tender for the construction of quality hotels in Attica ahead of the 2004 Olympic Games to be hosted by Athens.

    Bidders in the tender requested the extension due to problems created by a strike of workers at the Greek National Tourism Organization, Christodoulakis said.

    He told reporters that bidding so far from home and abroad was robust with 55 investment proposals submitted for the construction of luxury A class hotels in the prefecture, representing a total of 8,000 beds.

    [24] Greece to complete creation of EU project oversees

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    Greece is to complete by the end of February the establishment of agencies in ministries and in the regions to oversee projects funded under the European Union's Third Community Support Framework funds, Deputy National Economy Minister Christos Pahtas said on Wednesday.

    The task of the 24 supervising agencies is to ensure that projects are carried out on schedule. Their establishment is a condition for receiving the EU financing.

    The EU's executive Commission is expected by the end of April to endorse formally the release of funds for projects under the package, Pahtas said.

    An estimated 500 billion drachmas of funds were paid by the EU last year in deposits, he added.

    [25] Parthenon's restoration to finish when Olympics begin, KAS says

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    The scaffolding that now mars the appearance of Greece's most famous ancient monument, the Parthenon on the Athens Acropolis, will have been removed by the time the Olympic Games begin in the city in 2004, according to a works' schedule released on Wednesday by Greece's Central Archaeological Council (KAS).

    The scaffolding is in place for restoration work, which KAS members agree must be finished by that time, in accordance with the schedule for 10 programs submitted to the Acropolis Monuments Preservation Service (YSMA).

    They said the main priority would be to structurally restore the north colonnade and the main aspect of the monument.

    According to KAS, some 200 elements of the building weighing three tones in total would be removed and taken to a restoration workshop.

    The last KAS meeting had rejected the above proposal as "unfeasible". In the last 25 years, meanwhile, a total of 160 structural elements weighing a total of three tones have been removed for restoration.

    [26] Earthquake rocks Igoumenitsa, tremors in Athens

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    An earthquake rocked Igoumenitsa and the Paxoi islands Wednesday morning, some two hours after three tremors shook Athens.

    An earthquake measuring 5 on the Richter scale rocked Paxoi at 8:35 a.m., with its epicenter in the sea region between the islands and Igoumenitsa, according to the Aristotelion University's Geophysics Laboratory in Thessaloniki. Seismologists said the trembler was an aftershock of a 4.2 Richter quake that struck from the same epicenter at 00:35 a.m.

    Seismologists studying the two tremblers were cautious. Aristotelion University seismologist Manolis Skordilis told ANA that "we need to monitor the development of the phenomenon for 24 hours. We cannot say anything more at the present time".

    Meanwhile, mild tremors measuring 3.5, 3.8 and 3.4 Richter were recorded at 6:04, 6:08 and 6:14 a.m. in Athens, coming from the Mt. Parnitha epicenter that produced a devastating 5.9 Richter earthquake in early September 1999 that claimed 143 lives and left thousands homeless, according to the Athens Observatory's Geodynamic Institute.

    Seismologists told ANA the three tremors were part of the continuing post-seismic activity from the September 1999 earthquake.

    "They are part of the post-quake activity. There is no cause for concern," seismologist-researcher Yannis Baskoutas of the Geodynamic Institute told ANA, adding that the post-quake activity from the September 1999 trembler was continuing.

    Baskoutas also said there was no link between the Athens tremors and the two Igoumenitsa-Paxoi quakes.

    Replying to questions, he further excluded any relationship between the tremors in Greece with the two powerful earthquakes in El Salvador and Indonesia over the past 24 hours.

    [27] Athens municipal police to assume new police duties soon

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    Athens' municipal police force will soon enjoy a status similar to that of the Greek police (EL.AS.) as legislation will be tabled to delineate the jurisdictions of the two policing forces.

    "The cooperation between police and municipal police officers, is expected to be total," Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis said on Wednesday, following a meeting he had with Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos.

    On his part, Avramopoulos noted that the municipal police's contribution to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games security would be decisive.

    The Athens Municipal Police Force will establish two more police stations modeled after the pilot station of Omonia Square and initially will only provide tourist assistance, but is soon expected to be relegated regular police duties.

    [28] Book on Mt Athos monuments presented at Athens Academy

    Athens, 15/02/2001 (ANA)

    A presentation of a book by professor Pavlos Mylonas entitled "Atlas of Athos", featuring the architectural monuments of Mt Athos, took place at the Athens Academy on Wednesday night in the presence of President Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    Mylonas, an architect and academician, began his architectural research of Mt. Athos in 1954.

    The book has been published in four languages, Greek, Russian, English and German.

    [29] Colin Powell expresses Bush government's full support for UN efforts to resolve Cyprus issue

    NICOSIA, 15/02/2001 (ANA - G. Leonidas)

    US Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed the Bush government's full support for continuing efforts by the UN to achieve an overall solution to the Cyprus issue.

    In a letter of reply to his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides, delivered to him on Wednesday by US Ambassador to Nicosia Donald Bundler, Powell says he looks forward to the strengthening of bilateral relations and of warm friendship with Cyprus.

    "Allow me to reassure you that the US will remain committed to efforts to help find a just and lasting solution to the Cyprus issue," Powell said in his letter.

    Powell's letter was sent in reply to a letter of congratulations addressed to him by Kasoulides on the occasion of his appointment as Secretary of State in George W. Bush's government.

    [30] UNFICYP financial performance report

    NICOSIA, 15/02/2001 (CNA/ANA)

    The UN General Assembly appropriated just over 45 million US dollars gross for the maintenance of the UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for the period July 1999 to end of June 2000, according to a report by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, released on Tuesday as an official UN document.

    One third of the cost amounting to 14,630,810 m. is provided by the government of Cyprus and just over 6 m. is the voluntary contribution of Greece.

    A further 24 m. gross was assessed on member states for the period.

    Expenditure for the period totaled 45,107,500 gross resulting in an unencumbered balance of 523,400 gross.

    In his report, Annan notes that UNFICYP was established by Security Council resolution 186 of 4 March 1964 and from its inception until June 1993 costs were financed by troop contributing countries, the government of Cyprus and voluntary contributions to UNFICYP.

    Since June 1993, costs of the force not covered by voluntary contributions started being treated as expenses of the UN to be borne by member states.

    UNFICYP comprises about 1,210 troops, 34 civilian police and 189 civilian personnel. The military personnel are from Argentina, Austria, Canada, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the UK.


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