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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-02-16

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] IOC Coordinating Committee president discusses Athens 2004 Olympiad with Prime Minister
  • [02] IOC delegation briefed on latest progress for 2004 Games
  • [03] Ratification for 25 regional 3rd CSF programs to be secured in March
  • [04] Prime Minister to announce new Athens airport's opening date
  • [05] Situation in southern Serbia a main issue at next week's Balkan summit
  • [06] FYROM premier comments on 'dual name' compromise
  • [07] SE European brigade to perform three exercises in 2001
  • [08] Council of Europe issues third resolution against Turkey in Loizidou case
  • [09] Varvitsiotis calls on 2 Muslim MPs to explain criticism over France's recognition of Armenian genocide
  • [10] Karamanou seeks EU steps against drug trade, prostitution
  • [11] Personal Data Protection Authority says DNA checks for crime suspects possible
  • [12] Police Internal Affairs chief briefs transparency committee on department
  • [13] Alevras says new waste-management site in Hania should satisfy EU
  • [14] Mitsotakis says he doesn't regret Papandreou's 1990 referral to special tribunal
  • [15] Greek budget revenues rise 14.65 percent in January, yr/yr
  • [16] Gov't holds talks with ship owners, seamen on deregulation
  • [17] Insurers propose entry into social insurance
  • [18] European Parliament plenum ratifies report on cotton proposed by Greek Eurodeputy
  • [19] Cosmote unveils GPRS service in Grece
  • [20] Olympic Engineering reports US investment results
  • [21] Athens Medical in cooperation deal with World Access
  • [22] Alpha Bank rejects new measures for overdue loan rates
  • [23] Mytilineos seeks to enter the electricity market
  • [24] Turkish leather goods exhibition opens in March in Athens
  • [25] Euro socialists to debate digital economy
  • [26] ASE holds above 3,200 level
  • [27] Doctors of the World appeal for volunteers and funds for India earthquake victims
  • [28] Renowned philhellene author C. M. Woodhouse dies
  • [29] Government expresses support to action which helps towards reforms within Turkey
  • [30] Government says Denktash habit is "antidemocratic and dangerous"

  • [01] IOC Coordinating Committee president discusses Athens 2004 Olympiad with Prime Minister

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis was visited on Thursday night by International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordinating Committee President Jacques Rogge, who was accompanied by Athens 2004 Organizing Committee President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. No statements were made later.

    According to reports Simitis reassured Rogge that everything would be ready in time to enable the best modern-day Olympic Games to take place in Greece in 2004.

    Rogge also met Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis and said the briefing he was given by him was excellent, adding that "the prospects of the course of all projects undertaken by the ministry are positive."

    Laliotis told reporters he assured Rogge that all the projects undertaken by his ministry are within the timetable and commitments undertaken by his ministry in the cooperation memorandum signed with the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee and that "in some projects we have a speedup in processes."

    Referring to the five sports projects undertaken by his ministry, Laliotis said "there is clear progress" since studies have been assigned and contractors have established themselves.

    On the question of the request made by Rogge during his previous visit to Athens for an extension of the Athens Metro from Panormou station to the Athens Olympic stadium, Laliotis said he presented three alternative solutions to Rogge.

    The first concerns the extension of the route with an overland Metro (the solution was rejected), the second linking Panormou station with the Olympic stadium with an underground route seven kilometers long, costing 150 billion drachmas, and the third linking the Olympic stadium to the station at the national mint, through the suburb of Halandri, costing 100 billion drachmas.

    Laliotis said the Metro's extension to the Olympic stadium "is feasible and realistic, but under terms and preconditions for the project to be ready in June, 2004."

    However, he said there is a problem with finding necessary funds, adding that he is awaiting a decision by the inner cabinet and the European Union.

    [02] IOC delegation briefed on latest progress for 2004 Games

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    Visiting IOC vice-president Jacques Rogge, in Athens for the second time in three months to gauge progress for the 2004 Games, called acceleration efforts to build several Olympics-related projects.

    Rogge, at the head of an International Olympics Committee (IOC) delegation, met on Thursday with two of the government's ministers charged with overseeing preparations in cooperation with Athens 2004 organizers (ATHOC), as well as contacts with the leader of the main opposition New Democracy party.

    Emerging from a morning meeting with Deputy Sports Minister George Floridis, Rogge said he was satisfied with the briefing he received and dismissed rumors that the Games might be transferred to Seoul as "nonsense".

    Regarding his subsequent talks with ND leader Costas Karamanlis, a meeting the IOC executive reportedly requested, Rogge pointed out that he has spoken with opposition parties in the past, as well, since the Games concerned "all parties and all citizens, not just the government and the organizing committee."

    The president of the IOC coordinating committee for the 2004 Games also referred to the all-important issue of security, saying it had been discussed between experts earlier in the day. He pointed out, however, that such matters are always discussed and that this was nothing extraordinary.

    Rogge declined to answer questions on whether he was satisfied with Athens' progress, saying it was too soon and that he would present his positions during a press conference on Friday.

    He did, however, term cooperation between the government and ATHOC as "good", after a meeting with Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, under whose jurisdiction ATHOC falls under.

    "The contractors must be chosen for the Olympic venues within the next six months," Rogge emphasized.

    On his part, Venizelos noted that all 2004-related projects would be built "with a respect to the environment and our cultural heritage".

    He was responding to a question over the proposed rowing and canoeing facility at the east Attica Schinias site, a controversial decision that has drawn its fair share of criticism by environmental groups.

    "With the five projects we've tendered, we have covered lost ground and created the conditions for meeting the deadline," Venizelos.

    Karamanlis: In his press statements, Karamanlis criticized the government, referring to delays in deadlines and confusion in roles and tasks. He warned, once again, that New Democracy would not accept the direct assignment of projects but said that with serious and responsible cooperation the lost ground could be covered.

    Floridis: "We talked about the projects that fall within our domain, particularly those that we recently put up for tender ... and agreed that these projects would be ready on time and would be turned over for trials in August 2003," Floridis emphasized to reporters.

    Another issue mentioned, the Greek sports minister said, was anti-doping control, as the Athens Olympic Athletics Center (OAKA) had hired 11 scientists to train an additional 110 staff member for a laboratory able to meet the demands of the Games.

    [03] Ratification for 25 regional 3rd CSF programs to be secured in March

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    An inner cabinet meeting on Thursday focused on a discussion on government policy in its entirety, while government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Prime Minister Costas Simitis said economic developments are positive but all should intensify their efforts since their is the risk of oil price increases and other factors delaying development.

    Simitis said inflation, currently amounting to 3.5 percent, could fall to 3 percent in the summer and reach 2 percent at the end of the year.

    On the question of the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF), he said that by March 15 ratification would have been secured for the 25 regional programs submitted to the European Commission. Another inner cabinet discussion will be held on the issue, while Simitis will also be raising agricultural policy issues.

    Simitis, referring to the new Athens airport at Spata, said it is a complex project where 50 separate functions will be carried out at the same time, adding that in a few days time the exact date of its operation will be known.

    He also focused on national issues, saying he had repeated communication with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and the decision for Cyprus to remain at the negotiating table is absolutely correct since the other side was placed in a difficult position in this way.

    Simitis said Turkey should adjust to European established practice and that the country should make many more steps to implement commitments it undertook when it accepted the status of a candidate country for EU accession.

    He further said he believes the new government in the US will have approaches very close to Greek positions on issues concerning this part of the world.

    [04] Prime Minister to announce new Athens airport's opening date

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will announce the opening day of the new Athens airport on Friday in Parliament,, Transport and Communications Christos Verelis said on Thursday.

    During a press conference, where the minister also announced details of the privatization course of Olympic Airways, Greece's ailing national carrier, Verelis also announced that the Premier would state the exact date of the new airport's opening.

    He said that the Greek Civil Aviation Authority informed him that all technical problems regarding flight management were resolved, including the PALLAS systems, which will be ready for use in five to six weeks.

    Speaking on OA's privatization, he said that on Friday there would be a formal announcement of the four finalists contending to purchase the company,

    According to the minister, those are: Cyprus Airlines, Axon consortium, Australian based Venture Capital Integrated Airline Solutions and Restis consortium. Chrysler Aviation and Sanwa Bank of Japan failed to enter the final list of contention, as the first wanted to purchase only one section of the airline and the second wanted to undertake the management and not the ownership of the company.

    Verelis also said that the process for OA's privatization is expected to conclude by the end of April 2001, adding that beginning on Feb. 26 the four contenders will be allowed access to the data room of the company, so that they may conclude their final offers.

    [05] Situation in southern Serbia a main issue at next week's Balkan summit

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    The volatile situation in southern Serbia will be one of the main issues of discussion at a Balkan summit next week in FYROM, Greece's foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

    Spokesman Panos Beglitis said "the situation in southern Serbia will be one of the main issues" of the summit, to take place in Skopje on Feb. 23.

    He also said that Greek FM George Papandreou would have several sideline meetings with his Balkan counterparts, including Turkey's Ismail Cem.

    Beglitis added that the political directors of the Balkan countries' foreign ministries would earlier hold a two-day meeting in Skopje (Feb. 20-21) to work out the text of a joint communique to be adopted by the summit leaders.

    [06] FYROM premier comments on 'dual name' compromise

    SKOPJE, 16/02/2001 (ANA - M. Vihou)

    Local press reports here again focused on the "name issue" of the former Yugoslav republic, with FYROM's prime minister commenting on the possibility of a "dual name" compromise.

    In reply to an often-asked question over adoption of one name for the land-locked state's international relations and another when dealing with Greece, Georgievski said a "dual name compromise is a story that has been around since the Kiro Gligorov (the ex-president) era, and we simply support it. If another compromise is found we'll accept it.

    Georgievski's reply was published in the "Outrinski Vesnik" daily, whereas the "Dnevnik" newspaper quoted the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) premier as saying, "if a compromise is found over the issue (of a dual name) then we'll accept it."

    On Wednesday, Georgievski said his country aims to achieve the acceptance of a name that is as close as possible to the one spelled out by its constitution.

    Athens has been at odds with FYROM for years over the issue of this Balkan state's name, insisting that the word "Macedonia" should not be included in the name of the former Yugoslav republic since it implies expansionist designs against Greece's own large northern province known by that same name - Macedonia -- since antiquity, as well as being a historical misrepresentation.

    However, relations between Greece and FYROM have improved dramatically since the two countries signed an interim agreement in New York in September 1995, under the UN's auspices. Under the terms of that agreement, Athens and Skopje are to proceed with discussions to find a mutually acceptable solution for the name issue.

    [07] SE European brigade to perform three exercises in 2001

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    The multi-national brigade of southeastern Europe exercises for 2001 will be the focus of discussions of the civilian and military committee of southeastern Europe on Thursday and Friday.

    Three exercises were planed for 2001: CAX-2001 a computer simulated exercise, CORNERSTONE 2001 actual exercise in building roads and bridges and the SEVEN STARS exercise, which will take place in Bulgaria, with the use of troops.

    The committee includes representatives from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania and Turkey, while the US, Croatian and Slovenian representatives will participate as observers.

    [08] Council of Europe issues third resolution against Turkey in Loizidou case

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    The Committee of the Permanent Representatives of the Council of Europe (CoE) on Thursday examined the Loizidou vs. Turkey case and decided to draft a third interim resolution against Turkey for its failure to comply with the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, a press release issued by the Greek delegation at CoE stated.

    The Court issued a decision calling for the financial restitution of Cypriot Titina Loizidou, who won a case against Turkey over the military occupation of her personal property in northern Cyprus.

    The Committee will reconvene on April 3 and 4 to re-examine the case.

    [09] Varvitsiotis calls on 2 Muslim MPs to explain criticism over France's recognition of Armenian genocide

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    A high-profile New Democracy MP on Thursday called on the Parliament president to demand explanations from two Thrace-area Muslim minority deputies for their criticism of France last week, following the French National Assembly's recognition of what's been called the 1915 Armenian genocide.

    Former minister ND Ioannis Varvitsiotis said his two colleagues in Parliament, Galip Galip and Ahmet Mehmet, must provide explanations because "they have completely aligned themselves with Ankara's policy".

    The two deputies last week sent a written protest to the French embassy in Athens over the issue, sparking among others, condemnation by the Greece-based Armenian Popular Movement.

    Varvitsiotis said the two deputies' action "offends the Parliament of Greece ... as it comes in complete opposition to its decisions. Because, as it is well known, Greece's Parliament has unanimously condemned the aforementioned crime (the genocide), as well as having passed a bill for the annual paying of tribute to the victims of the Armenian genocide."

    The ND deputy called on the two Thrace-area MPs to address Parliament and explain their criticism of the French National Assembly's decision.

    In an announcement last week, the Armenian Popular Movement stated that "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."

    Tension erupted between the two NATO-ally countries late last month when French MPs voted to recognize Armenian accusations that their some 1.5 million kinsmen were massacred in 1915 during the collapse of the Ottoman empire. Ankara vehemently rejects the claim, saying far fewer were killed and that both sides suffered in partisan fighting during the initial outbreak of WWI combat in eastern Asia Minor.

    [10] Karamanou seeks EU steps against drug trade, prostitution

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    PASOK Euro parliamentarian Anna Karamanou on Thursday called on the European Commission to take steps against organized crime in the Balkans.

    "The adverse economic conditions and inadequacy of the state machine in the Balkan countries comprised auspicious conditions for the flourishing of organized crime, and particularly prostitution and drug trafficking," Karamanou said.

    Noting that huge drug rings have developed in many of the new countries, Karamanou said a necessary condition for combatting organized crime in the Balkans was ensuring better organization in the meting out of justice as well as beefed up guarding of borders among the Balkan countries "so as to put an end to the EU countries serving as recipients of the immigrant-smuggling market".

    [11] Personal Data Protection Authority says DNA checks for crime suspects possible

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    The Personal Data Protection Authority convened under its President Costas Dafermos on Thursday and reached the conclusion that DNA checks for crime suspects, regardless of whether they are suspects for terrorist or other crimes, is possible without their consent. The opinion was subsequently sent to Justice Minister Mihalis Stathopoulos.

    The Authority stressed the opinion that the use of DNA is permissible, even without the suspect's consent, in cases of serious crimes to help ascertain the identity of offenders.

    However, a legislative settlement is necessary beforehand, explicitly stating which crimes are considered serious, while the question of judgment on who is considered a suspect in a crime will be assigned to a relevant judicial authority to allow for independence guarantees and democratic legality.

    The Authority further stressed in its opinion that the destruction of the biological sample (DNA), following detection of the offender, should be safeguarded and that the specific sample will not be used for any other purpose or by a third party.

    The Authority's opinion will be communicated to the justice ministry's relevant legal processing committee, which is processing a bill on combatting organized crime and terrorism.

    [12] Police Internal Affairs chief briefs transparency committee on department

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    The police force's Internal Affairs Service received an average of two reports or tip-offs a day since it began operating, department head Vassilis Tsiatouras told a Parliamentary Committee for Transparency on Thursday.

    He said that there had been 933 complaints about police officers since October 1999, when the service was created, and that proceedings had been initiated against 74 officers for 146 offences in the last year and a half.

    According to the IA chief, the biggest source of corruption in the police force concerned illegal immigrants seeking residence permits and he went as far as to say that the level of police corruption would be much smaller if it weren't for illegal immigration.

    More than half the complaints, he added, were received over the phone, followed by complaints made in writing, while only 95 were made in person.

    Of the complaints received, Tsiatouras reported, 388 were passed on to more relevant departments, 77 had been passed on to prosecuting authorities, 113 were filed because of inconsistencies, 142 had been shelved for lack of evidence, 75 led to preliminary hearings and 29 to court cases.

    In addition to the 74 police officers, IA service investigations had led to proceedings against two civil servants and 51 private individuals, while in four cases charges were brought against unidentified police officers.

    [13] Alevras says new waste-management site in Hania should satisfy EU

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    Deputy Environment Minister Athanassios Alevras said he was sure the European Commission would lift a daily fine imposed on Greece for violating waste-disposal regulations at a Crete dump when it had inspected new facilities built by the government. Alevras made the statement on Thursday, in response to a question put by main opposition New Democracy deputy for Preveza George Tryfonidis.

    According to Alevras, Greece has paid out 1.015 billion drachmas since the July 4, 2000 ruling by the European Court imposing the fine, and he said that local authorities had failed to create an area for the safe disposal of toxic wastes, forcing the government to intervene.

    After central government became involved, he added, a waste-management center was constructed and was now operated on a trial basis, and would be receiving rubbish from the entire area after February 19.

    He said that the relevant European Commission agency would be invited to inspect the site in the coming week and give their approval for the fine to stop.

    The opposition MP countered, however, that the afore-mentioned project had not received environmental-impact approval.

    "How do you expect the fine to be lifted when the project has neither an installation nor operating license," he said.

    On July 4, 2000, the European Union's Court of Justice had imposed a fine of 20,000 euro (6.7 million drachmas) a day on Greece over its failure to comply with a 1992 European Court decision to stop dumping toxic wastes at the Kouroupitos dump in Hania, Crete. The court imposed a smaller fine than that proposed by the European Commission, 24,600 euros a day or 8.3 million drachmas, saying it had taken into account the "duration of the offence, its severity and the ability of the member-state to pay."

    This was the first time a fine had been imposed on an EU member-state by the European Court for failing to carry out one of its previous decisions.

    [14] Mitsotakis says he doesn't regret Papandreou's 1990 referral to special tribunal

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    Former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis on Thursday defended his 1990 decision to refer his then political rival, PASOK leader Andreas Papandreou, to a special tribunal.

    Mitsotakis' remark comes on the heels of statements by high-profile ND deputy Ioannis Varvitsiotis this week, who stated that both he and New Democracy founder Constantine Karamanlis disagreed with Papandreou's trial.

    The Parliament-appointed special tribunal in January 1992 acquitted the late Papandreou, a three-time prime minister, of all charges related to the late 1980s-era Bank of Crete embezzlement scandal.

    "It was a commitment, and when a large political faction assumes such a commitment on behalf of a people it must fulfill it ... it is not something over which I have changed my mind," Mitsotakis, the honorary president of ND, said.

    On his part, one-time PASOK minister Dimitris Tsovolas, who was also charged along with Papandreou, issued a statement saying that "we deliver the conspirators to the Greek people's judgment, those who on a daily basis ... degrade (our) democratic institutions."

    [15] Greek budget revenues rise 14.65 percent in January, yr/yr

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    Greek regular budget revenues increased by 14.65 percent in January, compared with the same month last year, exceeding the budget target by 20 billion drachmas, the finance ministry said on Thursday.

    Tax agencies' revenues rose 15.9 percent, customs revenues increased by 14.4 percent, while value added revenues jumped 19.7 percent.

    [16] Gov't holds talks with ship owners, seamen on deregulation

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis on Thursday held talks with leaders of the Union of Passenger Ship owners about a bill he is drafting to deregulate the sector, in line with European Union directives.

    The union's president, Stelios Zambetakis, told reporters after the meeting that the talks were constructive and held in a positive climate.

    At the same time, the ship owners expressed reservations about lowering the age ceiling of vessels to 30 years in 2006 from 35 years currently.

    Papoutsis later met with leaders of the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation, whose leader, Yiannis Halas, said his members were opposed to deregulation.

    [17] Insurers propose entry into social insurance

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    The insurance market is ready to hold talks with the government on undertaking involvement in state social insurance, cutting the cost for the public sector, Dimitris Kondominas, president of the Union of Insurance Companies of Greece, said on Thursday.

    Kondominas was speaking at an open debate on the role of private insurance in society and in the economy.

    Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis told the discussion that beyond the firm's involvement in social insurance, another subject for discussion would be insurance for tourism firms to cover political risk.

    [18] European Parliament plenum ratifies report on cotton proposed by Greek Eurodeputy

    STRASBOURG, 16/02/2001 (ANA - O. Tsipira)

    The European Parliament plenum on Thursday ratified a report on cotton proposed by Greek Communist Party (KKE) Eurodeputy Stratis Korakas, aiming at protecting cotton production and increasing quotas in cotton-producing European Union countries.

    Korakas presented the report on behalf of the Parliament Committee responsible for agricultural and countryside development issues. It is of particular interest to Greece, which covers 80 percent of EU production, and Spain, the EU's second cotton-producing country.

    The report was ratified with a broad majority, despite the European Commission's clearly negative position. Commissioner Fischler rejected all the amendments proposed for the report, claiming there is no possibility of increasing relevant funds and encouraging producers to increase their production is not desirable.

    Korakas said the European Union's effort to achieve a drastic restriction of cotton production is unjustified since the product only covers 35 percent of the needs of the EU, which is obliged to make imports.

    [19] Cosmote unveils GPRS service in Grece

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    Cosmote, a listed mobile subsidiary of Hellenic Telecoms, on Thursday presented to the public its General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) for the first time in Greece, a non-voice service that allows the transmission and reception of data through mobile telephone networks.

    The presentation took place at the annual COMDEX telecommunications and IT trade fair in Athens.

    Cosmote officials said the GPRS was the key and the final step towards a third generation mobile technology, ensuring high transmission speeds (exceeding 100 KBS) and offered to users a continuous connection with all applications, like Internet, WAP services, corporate services, geographical position.

    Cosmote signed a deal with Nokia for the supply the necessary technological equipment last October and has already started offering GPRS services to two customers, BP and Coca Cola in January.

    [20] Olympic Engineering reports US investment results

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    Olympic Engineering on Thursday reported sharply improved results for Newmark Homes Corp, its US investment, last year, with turnover totalling 640.5 million US dollars (238 billion drachmas), from 491.7 million (182 billion) in 1999.

    Newmark's pre-tax profits surged to 40.5 million US dollars (15 billion drachmas), from 27 million (10 billion) the previous year.

    Olympic Engineering has purchased an 80 percent equity stake in Newmark Homes Corp, a company listed in the Nasdaq Exchange.

    The US company builds and sold 2,499 homes at an average selling price of 254,000 US dollars.

    [21] Athens Medical in cooperation deal with World Access

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    Athens Medical Group on Thursday announced the signing of a cooperation agreement with World Access, the largest insurance management and support company in the world, based in Richmond, Virginia.

    World Access cooperates with the biggest insurance companies in the world, such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield, with more than 75 million customers in the US, Canada and Japan.

    The deal covers the Athens Medical Center, the Faliro Medical, Apollonio Clinic and the Thessaloniki InterBalkan Medical Center.

    [22] Alpha Bank rejects new measures for overdue loan rates

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    The chairman of Alpha Bank, the country's second largest credit institution, said on Thursday that he was opposed to any change in existing legislation on penalty rates for overdue loans.

    The government is considering easing the terms for debtors, who have complained of being charged excessively high rates by banks for loans outstanding after deadline.

    "This is a financial question, not a political one," Kostopoulos told a news conference.

    He said that creditors were avoiding repayment under the current law, expecting more favorable legislation in the near future.

    Alpha had identified 76 such cases among total debts of 2.5 billion drachmas, with 51 debtors seeking recourse to the existing law but none completing the process, Kostopoulos added.

    Theodoros Karatzas, governor of the country's largest commercial bank, National Bank of Greece, also opposes changes to the law on penalty rates for overdue loans. Karatzas is president of the Union of Greek Banks.

    Alpha Bank shows lower consolidated profit in 2000: Alpha Bank, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, on Thursday reported that the group's consolidated earnings before tax and after minorities fell by 39.5 percent to 127 billion drachmas against a year earlier.

    Private sector Alpha, the country's second largest commercial bank, showed a 26 percent decline in pre-tax profits to 107 billion drachmas, the group's chairman, Yiannis Kostopoulos, told a news conference.

    Management is proposing a dividend on earnings in 2000 of 310 drachmas per share, up from 293 drachmas in 1999, Kostopoulos said.

    He attributed the drop in profits mainly to the cost of absorbing Ionian Bank, which Alpha absorbed, and to a reversal of favorable market conditions in 1999.

    [23] Mytilineos seeks to enter the electricity market

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    Mytilineos, a miner and metals trader listed on the Athens bourse, plans to enter the electricity production and distribution market through the creation of two new subsidiaries, it said in a statement on Thursday.

    The Mytilineos Group is to submit its business plan to the state's energy regulatory authority, seeking the award of a license to build and operate private electricity plants, the statement said.

    [24] Turkish leather goods exhibition opens in March in Athens

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    The Piraeus port exhibition facilities will host a Turkish leather goods exhibition, which will open on March 1, hosting more than 70 Turkish designers.

    This will be the first ever exhibition of Turkish leather goods in Greece.

    [25] Euro socialists to debate digital economy

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    European socialists and social democrats are to meet at the Zappeion Hall in Athens on February 23-24 to discuss the implications of the digital economy in Europe, focusing on southeastern Europe.

    Among the speakers are Prime Minister Costas Simitis, former French premier Michel Rocard and former Italian premier Massimo d'Alema.

    [26] ASE holds above 3,200 level

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended mixed to higher on the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday with the general index holding above the 3,200 level for one more session.

    Traders said buying interest was strong and easily absorbed selling pressure in the market.

    The general index ended 0.20 percent lower at 3,204.84 points, off the day's highs of 3,254.37 points and the day's lows of 3,190.90. The index gained 2.10 percent in the previous five sessions. Turnover was an improved 308.08 million euros, or 104.98 billion drachmas.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.46 percent lower at 1,855.36 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index rose 1.39 percent to 362.48 points.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 6,923.51 -0.58% Leasing: 513.79 +1.59% Insurance: 1,281.85 +1.48% Investment: 1,293.49 +0.51% Construction: 1,384.46 +0.85% Industrials: 1,959.22 -0.29% Miscellaneous: 2,344.03 +2.50% Holding: 3,447.96 +1.73%

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 1.29 percent higher at 274.61 points.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 283 to 48 with another 30 issues unchanged.

    Alpha Bank, National Bank, Piraeus Bank and Naoussa Spinning were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Leading shares' closing prices (in euros): National Bank: 38.60 Alpha Bank: 32.94 Commercial Bank: 50.46 Eurobank: 20.70 Piraeus Bank: 15.02 Lambrakis Press: 12.46 Altec: 7.06 Titan Cement (c):

    38.04 Hellenic Telecoms: 16.54 Panafon: 6.92 Hellenic Petroleum: 9.58 Attica Enterprises: 6.82 Intracom: 20.48 Minoan Lines: 5.18 Viohalco: 10.80 Coca Cola: 18.70

    Bond prices end mixed in heavy trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Thursday finished mixed in heavy trade, dealers said.

    The new Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.37 percent from 5.34 percent a day earlier.

    The yield spread over German bunds was 54 basis points from 56 basis points the day before.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 1.20 billion euros (about 408.9 billion drachmas) from 1.01 billion euros (around 344 billion drachmas) in the previous session.

    Sell orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.

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

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 0.46 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 1.39 percent higher.

    Turnover was 65.2 million euros on 9,178 contracts traded, the dealers said.

    Euro slumps vs. dollar: The euro on Thursday fell against the US dollar to 90.90 cents from 91.78 cents a trading session earlier, according to reference rates released by the European Central Bank (ECB).

    The parity gives an implied rate of 374.86 drachmas versus the US currency, the ECB said in a routine statement.

    Greece joined the euro zone on January 1.

    [27] Doctors of the World appeal for volunteers and funds for India earthquake victims

    Athens, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    An appeal on behalf of earthquake victims in India was made in Athens on Thursday by the Greek branch of Doctors of the World, at a press conference where they appealed for financial support to aid the quake-stricken Gujarat province.

    Doctors Iro Vareami and Nikitas Kanakis gave eye-witness accounts of the situation as seen on their January 29 visit to the area to organize aid missions to remote areas and to distribute tents, blankets and medical supplies.

    After consulting with local authorities, and with the assistance of the Greek ambassador to India Yiannis Zepos, they said they had decided to "adopt" the village of Bimasar and the surrounding settlements, where they would provide full medical coverage to the local inhabitants through a medical unit.

    They said a second mission that aimed to stay for six months had left on February 4.

    They appealed for volunteers and money, however, both doctors and administrative staff, in order to be able to maintain the Doctors of the World presence in the area. The costs for the first quarter, they added, were estimated at approximately 600,000 euros, with the first expenses covered by the organizations own fund and more money expected from the European Union's Humanitarian Aid bureau.

    [28] Renowned philhellene author C. M. Woodhouse dies

    LONDON, 16/02/2001 (ANA)

    Christopher Woodhouse, the head of Britain's military mission in Nazi-occupied Greece and a prolific historian who focused on the Mediterranean ally he once served in, died on Tuesday at his home in Oxford. He was 83.

    The highlight of his military activity in wartime Greece was the 1942 Gorgopotamos Bridge sabotage -- which resulted in a temporary interruption of German supply lines to Rommel's Afrika Corps -- the pre-eminent example of joint action by rival partisan groups operating in the country.

    Woodhouse remained a diehard friend of Greece after the war, often visiting the country. His last trip came in the summer of 2000.

    A prolific writer of historical monographs, Woodhouse focused sharply on post-WWII Greek events, ranging from historical research on the Civil War of the late 1940s to his "Rise and Fall of the Greek Colonels" -- a brilliant 'autopsy' of the 1967-1974 military junta in Greece.

    Greece awarded him the Medal of the Order of Phoenix for his actions during the occupation, while his homeland bestowed on him the Medal of the Order of the British Empire. Since the death of his brother in 1998 Woodhouse inherited the family title of Lord Terrington.

    Funeral services will be held at the St. Mary's Church of Old Knebworth, Hertfordshire. Woodhouse is survived by a daughter and two sons as his wife, Lady Davina, died in 1995.

    [29] Government expresses support to action which helps towards reforms within Turkey

    NICOSIA, 16/02/2001 (CNA/ANA)

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou on Thursday expressed Cyprus' support to every action, which helps to-wards reforms within Turkey, adding that "the European Parliament's decision to pass funds in the direction of strengthening Turkey's European Union (EU) accession effort has been garnished by a series of significant political statements".

    Papapetrou noted that the Cyprus government considers certain ascertainments to be "important and positive", i.e. that "it is Turkey that applied for membership of the EU and it is up to this country that must adapt itself to the EU terms and not the other way round".

    He said other ascertainments were that "the Cyprus problem is related and connected" to the whole process, and that to be solved "a special effort is needed first of all on behalf of the Turkish side" and that "the status of the candidate country was not given to Turkey to be continuous and within a certain time frame Turkey must comply with the Copenhagen criteria".

    The spokesman said these statements by EU officers and the European Parliament were "very important", adding that "the government supports every action which contributes to changes within Turkey and encourages her transformation into a European country, which respects human rights, democratic institutions and the Copenhagen criteria, as they have been specified in Turkey's association partnership".

    Papapetrou added that the EU could not be used as a forum for candidate country quarrels, noting that all candidate countries must comply with the same criteria, so that all differences are abolished.

    [30] Government says Denktash habit is "antidemocratic and dangerous"

    NICOSIA, 16/02/2001 (CNA/ANA)

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said on Thursday that the habit of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to stigmatize all opposing him was "antidemocratic and dangerous". Papapetrou said "Denktash, in his effort to cut off the expressed dissatisfaction of Turkish Cypriots, both regarding his policy and the way Ankara intervenes in everything, has named those disagreeing as an 'ideological disease'".

    He added "stigmatizing those who disagree is antidemocratic and dangerous, and unveils an anachronism that explains why Denktash undermines the European Union accession course of both Cyprus and Turkey, and prefers to remain a captive of the era of nationalistic delirium, which was marked even by murders, so that every opposing view is heard".


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