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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-02-20

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Deregulation of electricity market signals new era
  • [02] Simitis to speak at int'l conference in Athens on Saturday
  • [03] Balkan foreign ministries to work on Summit's final communique, agenda
  • [04] Rondos named special rep of OSCE chairman for coordination
  • [05] 2004 Olympic Games will take place in Greece, Samaranch says
  • [06] Foreign minister says Greece and Turkey have enlarged and deepened their cooperation
  • [07] Foreign minister and Albanian counterpart discuss bilateral relations and regional cooperation
  • [08] Greek ministers hope joint efforts will yield results for Cyprus solution
  • [09] Defense minister calls for Greek aerospace firm to undertake share in Eurofighter production
  • [10] Vartholomeos receives COMECE delegation of Catholic bishops
  • [11] European Commission to send Greece 2nd warning letter over biocides directive
  • [12] Karamanlis dismisses poll results for new Avrampoulos party
  • [13] Greek trade deficit up 2.3 billion euros Jan-Nov, Eurostat says
  • [14] Moody's keeps stable rating for Greek banks
  • [15] New car pre-tax prices in Greece are the lowest in Europe
  • [16] Market authorities fine Athenian Holdings for manipulation
  • [17] Portfolio investment firms show asset value rise
  • [18] OTE says stake in Telecom Serbia paid for
  • [19] Greece to readjust airport fee rates
  • [20] Greek aluminum manufacturing sector grows at a rate of 7 percent in 2000
  • [21] Fourth consecutive exhibition of Greek firms this week in Skopje
  • [22] Second of four hovercraft ordered for Greek Navy arrives in Greece
  • [23] McDonald's to invest Dr 18 bln in Greek operations
  • [24] Small caps lead ASE to a higher close
  • [25] State tourism workers continue work stoppages
  • [26] Aravantinos alleges bad judgment by police in Passaris' escape
  • [27] Greeks among the foremost foreign language speakers, EU survey reveals
  • [28] Belgian film festival dedicated to Greece
  • [29] Clerides believes Cyprus question is among priorities of US administration
  • [30] Dutch State Secretary for foreign affairs calls for restart of Cyprus peace talks

  • [01] Deregulation of electricity market signals new era

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    The phased deregulation of Greece's electricity market, which came into effect on Monday, signals a new era both for the energy sector and for the country's economy, analysts said.

    The EU-ordained liberalization affects both the production and the transmission of electricity, ending a monopoly by the state-owned Public Power Corporation.

    Initially, deregulation covers production and supply to major consumers, which are mostly industries representing about 30 percent of the electricity market.

    In the second phase scheduled for 2005, deregulation will expand to households, which will gain the right to choose their electricity supplier.

    The liberalization of natural gas will begin in 2006.

    Private sector companies entering the market in the first phase of deregulation are estimated to be seeking around 400 billion drachmas' worth of the market, which has total turnover of 1.2 trillion drachmas.

    Consortiums from home and abroad were expected to begin submitting applications to the state's Energy Regulatory Authority on Monday for the construction of electricity generating plants totalling 5,000 megawatts of power.

    Among domestic firms that have shown interest in entering the electricity market are Intracom, a telecoms and information technology manufacturer; Hellenic Technodomiki, Aktor and TEB, an engineering contractors' group; the Copelouzos Group; the Latsis banking, shipping and energy group; and the Mytilineos mining and metals trading group. Most of the firms are quoted on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Mytilineos Group to invest heavily in energy: The Mytilineos Group SA, a listed miner and metals trader, is to invest 133.5 billion drachmas in the newly liberated energy sector, it said in a statement on Monday.

    Mytilineos submitted 14 applications to the state's Energy Regulatory Authority to built thermal, wind, hydroelectric, and combined power plants through firms it created for the purpose, the statement said.

    [02] Simitis to speak at int'l conference in Athens on Saturday

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis will address an international conference here on Saturday focusing on the issue of an "economy of knowledge, development and employment."

    The conference, organized by the European Socialist Party (ESP), will be hosted at the Zappeion Hall in downtown Athens.

    Besides Simitis, Michel Rocard and Massimo D'Alema, among others, will address the conference.

    Meanwhile, in an unrelated development, President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos will receive Simitis on Tuesday, followed by a meeting with a group of ruling PASOK deputies at his office.

    Meetings with several top ministers are scheduled on the prime minister's itinerary for Wednesday.

    [03] Balkan foreign ministries to work on Summit's final communique, agenda

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    Greece will focus on the violence in Presevo at a Tuesday meeting of foreign ministry officials from countries participating in the Balkan Summit. The meeting will work on the text of the Summit's final communique.

    The Balkan leaders will meet in Skopje, capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, on Thursday and Friday to discuss the latest developments in southeast Europe, particular events in southern Serbia and Kosovo.

    Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou intends to present Greece's proposals for resolving the crisis at a meeting with his Balkan counterparts on Thursday. The foreign ministers' meeting will prepare the agenda for the later meetings between heads of state and government. Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina will participate in these meetings as observers.

    On Thursday night, Papandreou will meet with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem, Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic and FYROM Foreign Minister Srgan Kerim.

    No new developments expected on 'Macedonian issue' at Balkan Summit

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Monday that no new developments should be expected at this week's Balkan Summit in the issue over the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    He was responding to questions on whether there had been progress in negotiations with the neighboring republic over the name issue.

    Doctors of the World-Greece expresses concern over increasing violence in Presevo and Kosovo: The Doctors of the World-Greece organization, with its experience as a stable presence in the areas of Presevo, Bujanovac, Vranje and the Serbian enclaves in Kosovo, on Monday expressed its great concern over the increasing incidence of violence in the region, which has a direct and indirect effect on the civilian population of this threatened area.

    The organization, according to an announcement, has been strengthening the health structure of the region and supporting the local health centers with additional medical equipment to ensure readiness to face the prospect of increased casualties or waves of refugees, and their medical team is on constant stand-by.

    A delegation from the organization, headed by Board of Directors President Dr Th. Rosenberg, visited the new Serbian Health Minister Obren Joksimovic on Monday to express concern regarding the escalation of violence in the region of Presevo and Bujanovac.

    [04] Rondos named special rep of OSCE chairman for coordination

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    The Greek foreign ministry's Balkans troubleshooter Alexander Rondos has been named the special representative of the OSCE chairman, to be in charge of coordination of the 55-nation security and human rights forum's activities for Balkan reconstruction, it was announced Monday.

    Rondos, a close adviser of foreign minister George Papandreou who heads the ministry's international development and cooperation department, was named for the post after a letter sent to Papandreou by Romanian foreign minister and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) chairman Mircea Geoana.

    In his letter, Geoana requested that Rondos immediately take up his new responsibilities and draft a report on the best possible utilization of the Stability Pact by July 2001.

    [05] 2004 Olympic Games will take place in Greece, Samaranch says

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch on Monday once again categorically stated that the 2004 Olympic Games would take place in Greece, during the IOC annual ball in Moscow.

    In the presence of Athens 2004 Organizing Committee President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, Samaranch said "the Games of 2004 were assigned to Athens and will take place in Athens. We must not loss time, talking about other things."

    "I am hopeful over the course of the projects, but maybe the construction of some installations should be sped up. We trust the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee. The Greek government knows very well what is at stake with the Olympic Games," he said.

    On her part Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said "there must always be concern. We will insist so as the preparations to be the best possible".

    [06] Foreign minister says Greece and Turkey have enlarged and deepened their cooperation

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Monday said Greece and Turkey have enlarged and deepened their cooperation following the political message given at the time of the big earthquakes and the signing of certain agreements in special sectors such as culture, tourism, the environment and security for the citizen, adding that it has currently reached the point of expanding to energy, natural gas, electric power supply and agricultural issues.

    Papandreou, who was addressing an event concerning the establishment of the Greek-Turkish Chamber of Commerce, referred to a recent discussion he had with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem during which they agreed that the two governments will try to process an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation.

    "The political will now exist for us to show understanding and, always with our national interest as a criterion, to even overcome the most difficult problems, no matter what separates us historically. Cooperation has contributed to stability in the region and the Greek-Turkish Chamber of Commerce constitutes a corridor of exchanges between the two countries and promotes bilateral relations," Papandreou said.

    Turkish Ambassador to Athens Ali Tuygan, in a brief address, said the establishment of the Chamber of Commerce is purely an initiative by businessmen coming after the expressed will of the two countries to promote bilateral relations even further.

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos also addressed a message to the event, expressing his pleasure over the establishment of the Chamber of Commerce.

    Gov't: Turkey's EU course must include improved democratic standards: Athens reiterated on Tuesday that Greece believes Turkey's democratic institutions should reach the level of European Union countries, thereby allowing the neighboring country to approach and eventually join the 15-member bloc.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas stressed that democratic institutions in Turkey must go hand in hand with Ankara's acceptance of the Union's acquis communautaire.

    "Greece desires cooperation of Turkey's forces and its political parties, as well as all the other agents, so that Turkey will become a modern state," he said in response to a reporter's question during his daily press briefing.

    [07] Foreign minister and Albanian counterpart discuss bilateral relations and regional cooperation

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Albanian counterpart Pascal Milo on Monday discussed bilateral relations during a working lunch given by Papandreou, ascertaining progress in a series of issues appearing recently and primarily regional cooperation issues in light of the Inter-Balkan summit to take place in Skopje (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) on February 22-23.

    Papandreou said in a statement that he and Milo discussed issues concerning the next Inter-Balkan Albanian presidency, adding that the two countries agree on priorities and reassuring that Greece will contribute and provide help for the priorities.

    On his part, Milo said the discussion was "very good and very constructive", while special reference was made to progress achieved recently in Greek-Albanian relations.

    Papandreou and Milo discussed strengthening bilateral economic relations and the addressing of problems facing the Greek minority in Albania, particularly in the educational sector.

    On the question of the Inter-Balkan summit, Papandreou briefed Milo on proposals he will be tabling regarding the situation created in southern Serbia and discussed with him certain aspects of the joint announcement to be made, such as reference to the need to avert a change of borders in the region, and on which the Albanian side raised no objections.

    [08] Greek ministers hope joint efforts will yield results for Cyprus solution

    NICOSIA, 20/02/2001 (ANA-G. Leonidas / CNA)

    Two Greek ministers currently visiting Cyprus, have expressed the hope that the joint efforts the two countries are making will yield results and bring a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem closer.

    Aegean Minister Nikos Sifounakis and Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Paschalidis are on the island to attend a meeting of the joint Greece-Cyprus evaluation committee of a program entitled "Thrace-Aegean-Cyprus" that will examine 330 proposals from 115 organizations relating to the promotion of education, culture and the environment of Thrace, the Aegean and Cyprus.

    Speaking after a meeting on Monday with Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, the Greek ministers expressed the conviction that Cyprus would become a full member of the European Union at the EU summit in Thessaloniki in 2003.

    Kasoulides said there are national and traditional ties among Thrace, the Aegean and Cyprus and these links help consolidate and promote issues of national importance and reinforce relations between Greece and Cyprus.

    Paschalidis said after the EU decisions in Helsinki and Nice, where Turkey was declared a candidate country and Cyprus was told that a solution to its political problem is not a precondition to accession, "there are optimistic prospects to see Cyprus joining the EU."

    Cyprus, he said, has a very important role to play in the Middle East and Greece an equally important role in the Balkans.

    "Turkey has the possibility to expand Europe's borders and it is up to Ankara to align its steps with Europe," Sifounakis told the press.

    Addressing the joint evaluation committee, he said "it is inconceivable for a small island to remain divided and there is no logic in such division."

    The Greek Cypriots, he said, are doing fine but one cannot claim the same for the Turkish Cypriots and called for more efforts to help Cyprus join the EU.

    Paschalidis told the committee the program that started in 1995 is positive and hopeful and must continue.

    Cyprus Finance Minister Takis Klerides told the meeting the budget for 2001-2002 is about 420,000 Cyprus pounds (one pound trades at about two US dollars) and Cyprus will contribute one third of that amount to the program. "Our objective is to strengthen cooperation and joint action of organizations from Thrace, the Aegean and Cyprus with a view to promote issues relating to education, culture and the environment," he said.

    He said Monday's meeting would choose the best proposals and pave the way for their implementation.

    The ministers will have more meetings on Tuesday and leave Wednesday.

    [09] Defense minister calls for Greek aerospace firm to undertake share in Eurofighter production

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Monday called the Hellenic Aerospace Industry's (EAB) contribution to the production of the "Eurofighter" project, a challenge for its capacity to join a system for the production of an aircraft.

    He noted that the future of EAB and all other Greek defense industries lay on the path of convergence accession to the European defense industry, stressing that the status of the company would have to be cleared up very soon.

    He added that "EAB clearly belongs to the state but is not a state sponsored company".

    [10] Vartholomeos receives COMECE delegation of Catholic bishops

    ISTANBUL, 20/02/2001 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Tuesday received a delegation of Roman Catholic bishops representing European Union countries (COMECE) for talks centering on issues dealing with Orthodoxy's role in the formulation of the Union as well as the role of various churches for stability in southeastern Europe.

    According to a press release issued by the Patriarchate, cooperation between the eastern and western Churches regarding European issues via mutual briefings between the Orthodox Church's EU liaison office and COMECE was also discussed.

    [11] European Commission to send Greece 2nd warning letter over biocides directive

    BRUSSELS, 20/02/2001 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Greece is among 11 European Union member-states facing legal action by the European Commission for failing to incorporate an EU directive on biocides in their national laws.

    Greece, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Finland all stand to receive a second warning letter from the Commission over this issue, which represents the second stage for initiating proceedings against an EU country at the European Court of Justice.

    The EU's biocides directive outlines environmental and safety standards for products that act against organisms that are harmful for the health of humans and animals and which attack natural or industrial products. It was instituted to supplement a previous directive for approving pesticides used in agriculture. Biocides include products such as wood preservatives, insecticides or disinfectants.

    The deadline for incorporating the directive in member-states' national legislation and notifying the Commission was May 14, 2000. A warning letter was sent to each of the countries on August 8 that year, giving each country a two-month deadline to submit any observations.

    On receiving the second letter, each will have another two months in which to fulfill their obligations to the Commission

    [12] Karamanlis dismisses poll results for new Avrampoulos party

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis dismissed projections of hefty gains for any new political formation founded by Athens mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, a former career diplomat and one-time ND cadre.

    In a published interview with an Athens daily on Monday, Karamanlis said certain poll results showing double-digit support for a fledgling Avramopoulos-led center-right party "measures only the intent" of those questioned.

    "Polls are like measuring air ... It's one thing to declare your intent (to vote) and another to grind oneself on the anvil of a harsh daily reality..."

    The ND leader also stated that he was under the impression that the two-term Athens mayor would actively support his party prior to the April 2000 general elections, and following their high-publicized lunch meeting before a half dozen TV cameras and reporters.

    In response to recent comments over a "right-right" coalition by one-time ND foreign minister Antonis Samaras, who left New Democracy in 1993 to found the now foundering Political Spring party (Pol.An), Karamanlis simply noted that:

    "For ND the only opponent is (ruling) PASOK, and practices that harm the quality of our democracy. What's of importance today is the creation of a majority formation from within society, and our goal is an independent ND government," he said.

    Finally, he also stressed in his interview with the "Eleftherotypia" daily that he doesn't intend to ask for a vote of confidence at the upcoming ND congress.

    ND leader says government's economic policy leading to increase in unemployment: Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis on Monday accused the government of increasing unemployment and part-time work and widening social inequalities with its economic policy.

    Karamanlis, who was addressing a conference of the party's Eurodeputies on social exclusion, said "they have deified figures and marginalized man."

    He said the number of socially excluded people has increased, adding that phenomena of social exclusion are appearing due to long-term unemployment, while a new generation of poor people is turning in essence into a gangrene and is slowly spreading.

    Karamanlis further spoke of farmers, small and medium-size businessmen, expatriates, illegal immigrants, former prison inmates, former drug users, AIDS sufferers and people with special needs who are living in a state of social exclusion.

    Criticizing the government, he said it promised them a new Greece and instead they found new unemployment and that a dignified standard of living should be consolidated to avert the threat of a society for the two-thirds.

    Karamanlis also said transparency is necessary in managing European Union funds for measures to be taken to handle unemployment and combat social exclusion.

    Labor Minister Tassos Giannitsis said the national action plan on employment already exists and a special plan against exclusion is being prepared which the European summit will present in June.

    He further said policies giving access to remunerated employment should be developed and subsidized ones should stop which reproduce such phenomena.

    Giannitsis added that it is up to the government to develop policies leading to greater social convergence within, however, the framework of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

    [13] Greek trade deficit up 2.3 billion euros Jan-Nov, Eurostat says

    BRUSSELS, 20/02/2001 (ANA-B. Demiris)

    Greece's trade deficit increased by 2.3 billion euros (around 783.7 billion drachmas) in the first 11 months of 2000, from the same period the previous year, Eurostat figures showed on Monday.

    The EU's statistics agency said the country's trade deficit totalled 17.2 billion euros (5.860 trillion drachmas) in the January-November period last year, up from 14.9 billion (5.077 trillion) in the corresponding period in 1999.

    The figures ranked Greece at the third place among EU-15 member-states with the highest trade shortfall, following Great Britain (46.3 billion euros) and Spain (25.8 billion euros).

    Germany recorded the highest trade surplus in the Jan-Nov period (60.1 billion euros), followed by Ireland (20.4 billion euros).

    Greek exports increased by 21 percent to 10.8 billion euros (3.68 trillion drachmas) from 8.9 billion euros (3.03 trillion drachmas) in 1999.

    Imports, however, rose by 18 percent to 27.9 billion euros (8.1 trillion drachmas) the previous year from 23.8 billion euros (8.1 trillion drachmas) in 1999.

    The EU-15 trade deficit totalled 82 billion euros in the first 11 months of 2000, up from 19 billion the previous year.

    [14] Moody's keeps stable rating for Greek banks

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    Moody's said on Monday that it had retained its stable rating for long and short term deposits in Greek banks, and the financial health of the institutions.

    In a regular market report, the international ratings agency said the move reflected an improvement in the Greek economy overall, restructuring in the banking sector that was leading to the creation of powerful units, and to a robust outlook for growth in financial services.

    The current restructuring through acquisitions and mergers was likely to continue in the medium term, further strengthening the banking sector and therefore national growth, the report added.

    [15] New car pre-tax prices in Greece are the lowest in Europe

    BRUSSELS, 20/02/2001 (ANA - B. Demiris)

    New compact car pre-tax prices in Greece are the lowest in the European Union, while they are higher concerning medium and larger automobiles, a European Commission report stated.

    The report was based on the pre-tax prices of 71 car models made by 15 European and 8 Japanese producers.

    The study found that cars in Greece, Finland and Denmark are sold at lower prices based on company policies, to compensate for higher than average taxes on their product.

    The after-tax prices of cars, however, in Greece are comparable to those in other Union countries.

    Prices in Germany seem to be the highest in the 15-member Union, as according to the study their pre-tax prices are 20 per cent higher than the average of cars sold in other euro-zone countries.

    [16] Market authorities fine Athenian Holdings for manipulation

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    The capital markets commission on Monday imposed fines of 1,032 million drachmas on Athenian Holdings and three offshore companies for bulling up the quoted company's share value through manipulation.

    The commission said in a statement that the offshore companies were LFG Capital Management, LFG International Atlas and LFG Athens Fund.

    The stock transactions were effected in 1999 and 2000, the statement said.

    Matching buy and sell trading orders given within seconds by the players drove up the share price of Athenian Holdings' at the close for 10 sessions, it added.

    [17] Portfolio investment firms show asset value rise

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    The country's portfolio investment firms showed a rise in their net asset value to 895.4 billion drachmas on February 15 from 852.6 billion drachmas on January 26, 2001, the Union of Institutional Investors said on Monday.

    The index for portfolio investment firms showed an increase of 5.0 percent against a rise of 4.3 percent on the Athens Stock Exchange's general share index, the union said in a statement.

    [18] OTE says stake in Telecom Serbia paid for

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, a heavily traded stock on the Athens bourse, said on Monday that it had given payment of 675 million marks for a 20 percent stake in Telecom Serbia.

    The shares in the Balkan country's state telecom had been received on payment, as the acquisition contract stipulated, OTE said in a statement.

    OTE was responding to media reports alleging complications in the deal.

    [19] Greece to readjust airport fee rates

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    The Greek government on Monday submitted a draft bill to parliament envisaging the readjustment of airport fee rates for domestic and international flights.

    The draft bill, tabled by National Economy and Transport Ministers, Yiannos Papantoniou and Christos Verelis, envisages a 40 percent cut (from 20 to 12 euros) in airport fees for passengers flying within European Union and European Economic Area member-states, a 20 percent increase in fees on domestic flights and a 10 percent increase in fees on other international destinations.

    The bill also lowers the age limit for children paying airport fees to five from 12 years old.

    [20] Greek aluminum manufacturing sector grows at a rate of 7 percent in 2000

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    Greek aluminum manufacturing sector sales rose by a healthy seven percent in 2000 compared to 1999, increasing to a total of 260,000 tons.

    Aluminium extrusions, used mainly in door and window construction sector, dominated both domestic sales and exports, as the total production rose to 125,000 tons from 108,000 tons in 1999. Exports rose to 45,000 tons in 2000 compared to 36,000 tons the previous year, accounting for the lion's share of the sector's growth.

    Aluminium rolled products, such as foil, cans and other packaging materials made of the light metal, experienced almost no growth during the past year remaining at about 134,000 tons.

    Greece's per capita consumption of aluminum products rose to about 9 kilos, compared to Germany's 24 kilos and Turkey's 5 kilos.

    [21] Fourth consecutive exhibition of Greek firms this week in Skopje

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    A fourth consecutive exhibition of Greece-based enterprises will take place in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the weekend at the Skopje trade center.

    Some 70 Greek firms will participate in the exhibition -- between Thursday and Sunday -- which is again organized this year by northern Greece's Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) organization.

    Local companies active in the sectors of foodstuffs, beverages, services, agri-industry, building materials, electronics, plastics, metals, clothing, as well as home and garden goods, among others, will be represented.

    According to information supplied by TIF, Greece is FYROM's third largest trade partner, after Germany and Slovenia, whereas Greek companies hold first place in terms of direct foreign investments in the one-time Yugoslav republic directly to Greece's north.

    Additionally, Greek exports to FYROM reached the $1.32-billion mark in 1999.

    [22] Second of four hovercraft ordered for Greek Navy arrives in Greece

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    The second of four Zubr-type hovercraft ordered for the Greek Navy has arrived in Greece and has been named "Ithaki." The vessel is Ukrainian-built.

    The Greek flag was hoisted recently on the other Ukrainian-built hovercraft obtained by the Navy and named "Kefallinia."

    Two more Russian-built hovercraft, to be named "Kerkyra" and "Zakynthos", are expected to be delivered to Greece at the end of May and July, 2001, respectively.

    [23] McDonald's to invest Dr 18 bln in Greek operations

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    McDonald's, the global fast food chain, is to invest 18 billion drachmas (52.824 million euros)over four years to expand its Greek operations, a senior company official said on Monday.

    The chief executive officer of McDonald's Hellas, Alain Sebah, told a news conference that the company planned to open more than 100 fast food restaurants under franchise, doubling current capacity.

    The investment drive reflected the impetus of the Greek economy and anticipated demand by consumers, Sebah said.

    McDonald's has 48 outlets in Greece, 37 under franchise and 11 run directly by the company.

    Next month, the company will open two restaurants at the Eleftherios Venizelos airport near Spata, which is due to start operations on March 28, Sebah added.

    [24] Small caps lead ASE to a higher close

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    Continued buying interest for smaller capitalization stocks led Greek equities to a higher close on the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, extending their gains for the 8th consecutive session.

    Traders said the general index fell 0.92 percent initially to recover strongly surpassing the 3,250 level later in the session, to end at 3,240.53 points, up 0.59 percent. Turnover was an improved 228.59 million euros, or 77.89 billion drachmas, of which 20.21 million euros were pre-agreed transactions.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.35 percent higher at 1,864.66 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index jumped 2.17 percent to 381.35 points.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 6,888.16 +0.18% Leasing: 544.85 +5.12% Insurance: 1,355.76 +4.12% Investment: 1,302.75 +0.50% Construction: 1,496.04 +3.49% Industrials: 2,002.40 +0.61% Miscellaneous: 2,525.46 +3.50% Holding: 3,581.22 +1.67%

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks soared 7.06 percent to 313.56 points.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 318 to 27 with another 12 issues unchanged.

    Alpha Bank, Agricultural Bank, Coca Cola, Viohalco and Alfa Holding were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Leading shares' closing prices (in euros): National Bank: 38.36 Alpha Bank: 32.40 Commercial Bank: 50.68 Eurobank: 20.56 Piraeus Bank: 15.10 Lambrakis Press: 13.38 Altec: 8.08 Titan Cement (c): 38.48 Hellenic Telecoms: 16.54 Panafon: 6.82 Hellenic Petroleum: 9.72 Attica Enterprises: 7.40 Intracom: 20.38 Minoan Lines: 5.60 Viohalco: 10.98 Coca Cola: 19.04

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

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 0.35 percent up, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 2.17 percent higher.

    Turnover was 33.4 million euros on 6,318 contracts traded, the dealers said.

    Bond prices end up in slim trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Monday finished higher in light trade, attributed to the closure of US markets for a public holiday, dealers said.

    The new Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.37 percent, the same as a day earlier.

    The yield spread over German bunds was 56 basis points, also the same as the day before.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 195 million euros (about 66.4 billion drachmas) from 1.0 billion euros (around 370 billion drachmas) in the previous session.

    Buy orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.

    Euro slightly over 92 cents: The euro on Monday stood at 92.13 cents against the US dollar, according to reference rates released by the European Central Bank (ECB).

    The parity gives an implied rate of 369.85 drachmas versus the US currency, the ECB said in a routine statement.

    Greece joined the euro zone on January 1.

    [25] State tourism workers continue work stoppages

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    Workers at the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) said on Monday that they would continue their work stoppages this week to protest against the government's plan to overhaul the state agency.

    The strikes are planned for 0730-1030 on Tuesday and 1200-1500 on Wednesday. Workers are to hold a general assembly on Thursday after a meeting with Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, GNTO's trade union said in a statement.

    [26] Aravantinos alleges bad judgment by police in Passaris' escape

    Athens, 20/02/2001 (ANA)

    Korydallos prison guard Antonis Aravantinos said on Monday that the prisoner transfer department made "an error of judgment" regarding escaped convict Constantine Passaris, while giving voluntary testimony to the Piraeus Public Prosecutor's office investigating the case.

    Passaris, 26, escaped from an Athens hospital where he had been taken for a brain scan on Friday, after a shootout in which he shot and killed two of his guards and seriously injured a third.

    Aravantinos gave testimony on Passaris' life and conduct in prison, and said he had planned his escape in advance. He ruled out the possibility that Passaris might have had the gun he used inside prison, which he said was meticulously searched by prison staff every day.

    According to police, the gun used by Passaris is a 5.45 mm Russian pistol used by security forces and is the second of its kind to be found in Greece.

    Passaris was wearing handcuffs when he fired at his guards, which he removed using a key given to him by an accomplice or taken from one of the policemen, authorities said.

    Police are investigating how Passaris knew when and where he was to be taken in order to arrange his escape.

    On Friday, the police chief suspended the director of the police detainees transfer division for negligence in handling Passaris' security. More police officers may be suspended if evidence of culpability is found, officials said.

    Also suspended was the governor of Korydallos jail, where Passaris was imprisoned, and its managers and resident doctor.

    On Sunday, senior police officials said that none of Passaris' guards were wearing bulletproof vests, although the force's Athens detainees and courts department was allocated six in 1997 for the transfer of dangerous criminals. All three men were shot in the chest and belly.

    Passaris, a convicted robber, was imprisoned in Korydallos after he and two Romanian outlaws opened fire on police with a submachine gun and handguns in a routine traffic check near Vathis Square in late February 2000. One of the Romanians was killed and three police officers were wounded during the incident.

    [27] Greeks among the foremost foreign language speakers, EU survey reveals

    BRUSSELS, 20/02/2001 (ANA- M. Spinthourakis)

    More than half of Greece's citizens speak at least one foreign language, Euro barometer survey results, made public on Monday, revealed ranking Greeks above average in the European Union.

    According to the survey, 52.7 per cent of Greeks speak at least one foreign language, with English ranking by far the most popular with 44.6 per cent of the total of foreign language speakers, while 9 per cent declared that they spoke French, 7.9 German and 5.1 Italian.

    These statistics become all the more revealing, if compared with the fact that 74 per cent of the European Union's citizens who do not speak other than their mother tongues and that the Greek language is used less than three per cent of the 15-member Union.

    Greeks responding to the survey also said that they considered the acquisition of a second language a very important professional skill.

    The survey was conducted in light of 2001 being declared the "Year of Foreign Languages" by the European Commission.

    [28] Belgian film festival dedicated to Greece

    BRUSSELS, 20/02/2001 (ANA-G. Zitouniati)

    The 17th International Film Festival of Love 2001, which is held every year in Belgium's city of Mons, is dedicated this year to Greece.

    The festival, which opened its doors on February 16, will be concluded on February 23. Greece competes for the first time in the festival with Panayiotopoulos' film "This Night Remains".

    Other Greek films are also being screened but are not part of the festival's competition.

    The film "This Night Remains" will be screened on Tuesday, and according to reports, has a good chance of distinction.

    [29] Clerides believes Cyprus question is among priorities of US administration

    NICOSIA, 20/02/2001 (CNA/ANA)

    President Glafcos Clerides believes the Cyprus question is among the priorities of the US administration but is not as high up in their priority list as the situation in the Gulf or that in the Middle East.

    The president also said his government has various considerations to help the UN peace effort move forward, which are not for public consumption and expressed the view that the US no longer intend to maintain presidential emissaries for various problems.

    "US President Bush indicated in his election campaign that he would focus on issues that affect adversely US interests and I would say that the Gulf, the Middle East come first and Cyprus follows," the president said, invited to assess how the change of government in the US might affect developments in Cyprus.

    The president said has had assurances that US interest in Cyprus will continue.

    He said Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has had a telephone conversation with his American counterpart Colin Powell, who in a reply letter to Kasoulides reiterated US support for the ongoing UN peace process. Asked to comment on reports that Washington intends to abolish the appointment of presidential emissaries, President Clerides said "this does not concern only Cyprus, it seems US President Bush and Secretary Powell have agreed that such issues of foreign policy should come under the umbrella of the State Department."

    He explained that when US Cyprus presidential emissary Alfred Moses' contract expires, it will not be renewed. Ambassador Moses was appointed by former President Bill Clinton and has been in the wings of the UN-led proximity talks for well over a year.

    On Cyprus' EU accession prospects, President Clerides said the harmonization process should be completed in 2002 and after that it is up to the European Union to decide when to accept new members.

    "Our accession course acts as a catalyst for a Cyprus settle-ment," he added.

    In his comments about US policy on Cyprus, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said "what is important is to see what policies the new US administration will apply and not what technocratic channels it will use to apply such policies."

    He pointed out that when the political will is there to exert pressure, then this can be done.

    [30] Dutch State Secretary for foreign affairs calls for restart of Cyprus peace talks

    NICOSIA, 20/02/2001 (CNA/ANA)

    Dutch State Secretary for foreign affairs Dick Benschop has called on all interested parties to resume the UN-led peace talks and return to the negotiating table, expressing also his government's full support for UN efforts to find a settlement of the protracted Cyprus question.

    Benschop said the Netherlands subscribe to the European Union decisions in Helsinki and do not consider a political settlement a precondition for Cyprus' EU accession, adding that all relevant factors will be taken into account.

    Speaking at a joint press conference with Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, Benschop said Cyprus "is a front runner in terms of the EU enlargement process and this is good news", noting also that there remain technical and policy matters that need to be aligned with the acquis communautaire.

    Welcoming improved Greco-Turkish relations and the new phase in EU-Turkey links, he said "we have been looking for ways which the UN process can restart."

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