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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-02-23

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greece, FYROM reiterate current Balkan borders must be kept in place
  • [02] Papandreou says Balkan cooperation entering new phase dominated by moderate views and democratic principles
  • [03] Greece to play a vital role in Balkan cooperation, EU commissioner says
  • [04] FYROM, Greek communities in Australia oppose compromise solutions
  • [05] Papandreou to meet Powell Tuesday on NATO summit sidelines
  • [06] Parliament to vote on Olympic Airways' privatization next week
  • [07] Arafat may visit Athens on Saturday
  • [08] Delegation of US Senators meet with Greek leadership
  • [09] Greek defense minister meets Romanian counterpart in Athens
  • [10] New Navy General Staff takes command of Hellenic Navy
  • [11] Economic forum of national economy ministers and businessmen from countries in southeastern Europe ends in success
  • [12] Greek stocks end volatile session lower
  • [13] National Bank presents Greek bond market to foreign investors
  • [14] Greece offers tax breaks for long-term mutual funds' investors
  • [15] Greek harmonized inflation eases to 3.2 percent in January, yr/yr
  • [16] Commercial Bank reports improved results in 2000
  • [17] Greek businesses' four-day exhibition in Skopje opens
  • [18] Greece to give Romania loan to aid Balkan reconstruction
  • [19] Olympic Airways unions urge dialogue with the government
  • [20] Civil service pilot program for evening opening hours
  • [21] Greece to launch pilot system on civil servants' efficiency rates
  • [22] Gov't decides against metro extension for second connection of Olympic Stadium
  • [23] Government planning to give landlords incentives to make their buildings more presentable
  • [24] EU Commissioner says Schinias could be in Natura 2000
  • [25] Archbishop Christodoulos meets Archbishop of America
  • [26] President Clerides on Cyprus peace effort, crisis in Turkey
  • [27] President Clerides meets Lord Mayor of London
  • [28] European Parliament Socialist Group delegation in Cyprus

  • [01] Greece, FYROM reiterate current Balkan borders must be kept in place

    SKOPJE, 230/02/2001 (ANA - M. Vihou)

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis held a 20-minute meeting here on Thursday night with his counterpart of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Ljubco Georgievski. The two men and focused their attention on bilateral relations and the situation in the broader Balkan region.

    Speaking to reporters later, Simitis said the two expressed the will of both sides to confront any efforts being made by various extremist elements to dispute the current borders or to place into doubt the settlements brought about after the war in Kosovo through a United Nations decision.

    The FYROM prime minister expressed the hope that peace prevails as soon as possible in southern Serbia and Kosovo and for disputes to be resolved through peaceful means, because "our two countries are harmed directly and indirectly."

    Simitis arrived in Skopje to attend a Balkan summit, which begins on Friday.

    On bilateral relations, Simitis said that the Greek side would examine the possibility of extending visas to FYROM nationals, adding that Athens will contribute financially to the new university in Tetovo.

    Referring to the dispute over the neighboring country's name, Simitis and Georgievski agreed that the problem must be solved as soon as possible and that the talks between the two countries should continue in New York.

    [02] Papandreou says Balkan cooperation entering new phase dominated by moderate views and democratic principles

    SKOPJE, 23/02/2001 (ANA - A. Podimata)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Thursday said inter-Balkan cooperation is entering a new phase characterized by the prevalence of moderate views and democratic principles.

    Papandreou was speaking in the wake of the informal meeting of foreign ministers of the "process for cooperation in southeastern Europe" member-states, concluded in Skopje, in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), in the afternoon prior to the start of the Balkan summit.

    He said the foreign ministers hailed in principle the agreement signed on Thursday between FYROM and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on the delineation of borders between them as being indicative of the new prospect appearing in the Balkan region.

    Papandreou said considerable progress has been achieved between all the countries of former Yugoslavia on issues concerning the so-called "succession" and added that what is becoming increasingly evident "is the prospect of resolving longstanding issues through peaceful and dialogue processes and not through conflicts and acts of extremism."

    Priorities of the Albanian inter-Balkan cooperation presidency, due to start at the end of the summit, were also discussed.

    Papandreou said that, following a proposal by Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, the Albanian presidency will organize a meeting of Balkan country energy ministers, since the energy issue is one of the most important ones preoccupying the region.

    Moreover, at the suggestion of the Greek side, the Albanian presidency's priorities will include the European vocation of the region's countries, as well as action to combat organized crime.

    Papandreou also raised the issue of the situation prevailing in southern Serbia, the question of depleted uranium and the issue of environmental protection in the area in general. Cooperation was agreed, based on the Greek proposal already made.

    He said an interesting exchange of views occurred on the issue of southern Serbia between the Albanians, the Yugoslavs and the president of the meeting, Kerim, adding that "there were no extreme differences" and that all agreed to the need for a "peaceful solution to problems and the condemnation of force."

    Papandreou had a 30-minute private meeting with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem which, however, was interrupted before being completed since Cem had to rush to the airport where Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit was due to arrive. Papandreou further said he and Cem agreed to make statements after the meeting would be concluded.

    In another development, Alternate Foreign Minister Elizabeth Papazoi held talks on Thursday with Romanian Defense Minister Ioan Mircea Pascu, focusing on efforts being made by Romania, being a candidate country for European Union accession, to close a big number of chapters in EU established practice as soon as possible.

    Papazoi informed Pascu of the Greek government's intention to continue providing Romania with aid at economic level and with know-how.

    Developments in the Balkans, EU-Turkish relations, efforts to improve Greek-Turkish relations and the problem of Cyprus were also discussed.

    Papazoi will be making an official visit to Romania on March 13-14.

    [03] Greece to play a vital role in Balkan cooperation, EU commissioner says

    Athens, 23/02/2001 (ANA)

    Greece's presence in the Balkan Summit as a country of the region and in its capacity as a European Union member demonstrates the will of the 15-member-nation bloc to promote regional cooperation, External Affairs European Commissioner Chris Patten said, during a press briefing in Brussels on Thursday.

    "The presence in Skopje of one EU member-state (Greece), three candidate countries (Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey) and the five countries of the EU's Stabilization and Association Process (FYROM, Yugoslavia, Albania, Bosnia and Croatia) will demonstrate how the perspective of EU membership one day is a motor for regional cooperation," Patten said.

    Greek premier Simitis will focus on "issues concerning political stability, cooperation and the prospects for the future the peoples of the region, with the other leaders of the Balkans," Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said, during a news briefing on Thursday afternoon.

    Patten is expected to arrive in Skopje on Friday, the second day of the summit, in a show of the Union's support for this regional cooperation effort, which begun with the EU sponsored Stabilization and Association Process (SAA). EU pledged aid worth 4.65 billion euros for the region over the 2000-2006 period.

    EU's by foreign policy chief Javier Solana is also expected to participate in the summit, in efforts to promote plans for strengthening democracy and market reforms in the Balkan region.

    Greece, EU candidate countries Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey and five Balkan countries wishing to apply for candidacy to the EU, participate in the summit, this time including Yugoslavia, which was shunned during the Milosevic era.

    [04] FYROM, Greek communities in Australia oppose compromise solutions

    MELBOURNE, 23/02/2001 (ANA - S. Hatzimanolis)

    Rumors that a dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over that republic's adopted name of 'Macedonia' might be nearing resolution have Australia's ethnic Greek and FYROM communities up in arms, despite the assurances of the Greek government that no developments on this issue are expected any time soon.

    According to a report from the ANA correspondent in Australia on Thursday, the rumors that a solution might involve a composite name have triggered a flurry of protest letters and articles in the two minorities' media, each vehemently opposing possible compromise solutions.

    [05] Papandreou to meet Powell Tuesday on NATO summit sidelines

    Athens, 23/02/2001 (ANA)

    Foreign minister George Papandreou will meet with his US counterpart, Secretary of State Colin Powell, on Tuesday in Brussels on the sidelines of a NATO summit, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

    Papandreou and Powell were expected to discuss bilateral relations and regional developments, it added.

    The ministry also said Papandreou would be in Brussels on Monday for a general affairs meeting of EU foreign ministers, which was expected to focus on developments in the Middle East following the change of government in Israel, and on the course of the EU's accession negotiations with candidate countries.

    [06] Parliament to vote on Olympic Airways' privatization next week

    Athens, 23/02/2001 (ANA)

    The Parliament failed to vote on the privatization of Olympic Airways, which was included in a bill on tax cuts, due to lack of quorum, on Thursday, thus discussion and the vote were postponed for next week.

    While both ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy supported the bill, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) argued against it and requested a roll call vote.

    Deputy Finance Minister Apostolos Photiadis introduced and defended the bill, stressing that the foremost concern of the government was to secure the jobs of the ailing national carrier's employees.

    ND supported the move to sell the airline, but stressed that it was done way too late, as the company has now compiled sizeable debts.

    KKE accused the government of "unloading" the airline and Synaspismos concurred, saying that the future private owners will bankrupt the company.

    In a related development, all opposition parties expressed their objection against an article of the same bill, which requested the parliamentary approval of a contract between the public funds management agency DEKA and the state operated National Bank of Greece.

    The contract concerned the National Bank's purchase of shares belonging to privatized formerly public companies sold by DEKA.

    Opposition deputy Stephanos Manos expressed the strongest arguments against the approval, adding that he would ask the New York Stock Exchange, where the National Bank of Greece is listed, if it was informed of the bank's dealings.

    [07] Arafat may visit Athens on Saturday

    Athens, 23/02/2001 (ANA)

    Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is likely to visit Athens on Saturday, government sources said on Thursday.

    The sources said that the Palestinian leader asked to visit Athens to have talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    The Greek side, according to the same sources, accepted Arafat's request, providing he decides to come to Athens, and will be received by Simitis on Saturday morning at the Maximos Mansion.

    [08] Delegation of US Senators meet with Greek leadership

    Athens, 23/02/2001 (ANA)

    Greek Foreign Minster George Papandreou on Thursday received a delegation of United States Senators, led by Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle and discussed Greece's regional leadership role, Greek- Turkish relations, the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and the Cyprus problem.

    Daschle congratulated Greece, during his meeting with Papandreou, for "its leading role in the Balkans, which could prove valuable to all of us".

    Following the meeting, Papandreou said that talks focused on developments in the Balkans, Greek-Turkish relations, the European course of Turkey, the Cyprus issue and cooperation between Greece and the USA in confronting terrorism.

    They also discussed issues concerning the Athens 2004 Games, in relation to aid provided by US Senators in promoting the Olympic Truce during the Games.

    Later in the day the delegation visited Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and discussed regional security issues.

    The delegation arrived in Greece on Thursday for a two-day visit and will also meet with Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis, other senior government officials main opposition New Democracy party leader Karamanlis.

    The Senatorial delegation visiting also includes Barbara Boxer, Kent Conrad, Tom Harkin and Harry Reid. Following their visit to Greece they will also visit Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    [09] Greek defense minister meets Romanian counterpart in Athens

    Athens, 23/02/2001 (ANA)

    Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos met his Romanian counterpart Ioan Mircea Pascu in Athens on Thursday for talks that focused on NATO and EU enlargement and bilateral cooperation in the defense sector.

    They decided that Greece and Romania should work together on joint defense research programs, such as the retooling of C-130 aircraft by the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) and Greek shipyards.

    Both ministers also expressed concern over the situation in south Serbia and the terrorist activities by Albanian separatists in the area. Tsohatzopoulos referred to 'Albanian nationalists' and Pascu talked about parties that did not want Federal Yugoslavia to rejoin the international community.

    "If you can't solve a specific problem, it will lead to more problems," Pascu said on this issue. If the international community could stop Milosevic, he added, there was no reason why it could not control a small group of people.

    Tsohatzopoulos called on the EU and NATO to state that they did not accept terrorist phenomena that appeared to be systematically promoted in southern Serbia. He also appealed to the Kosovo peacekeeping force KFOR and the Yugoslav armed forces to work together in the free zone to deter conflict. He clarified that the problem was centered in the Presevo Valley, which was a free zone that no one could enter, a fact that terrorist organizations took advantage of to create problems.

    The Greek defense minister also expressed Athens' support for Romania's and Bulgaria's accession to the EU and NATO, as well as the accession of the Cyprus Republic and Turkey to the EU.

    After the meeting, the Romanian defense minister was received by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    [10] New Navy General Staff takes command of Hellenic Navy

    Athens, 23/02/2001 (ANA)

    Navy General Staff Chief George Theodoroulakis retired on Thursday during an event that followed the age-old navy traditions, presenting his successor Antonios Antoniadis and installing him to the duties of the post.

    This "change of guard" took place on the newly acquired navy transport vessel "Rodos", which was anchored at the Salamina Naval Station of the Hellenic Navy.

    [11] Economic forum of national economy ministers and businessmen from countries in southeastern Europe ends in success

    SKOPJE, 23/02/2001 (ANA - M. Vichou)

    The economic forum of national economy ministers and businessmen from countries in southeastern Europe, held in Skopje, in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, on Thursday in the framework of the fourth summit of leaders from southeastern Europe, has ended in success.

    The signing of free trade agreements between several countries from southeastern Europe was hailed at the forum and the need was stressed for the further liberalization of trade with the future target of creating free trade zones as one of the preconditions for countries in the region being incorporated in European structures.

    The need to reduce legal obstacles and speed up a rapprochement between legislations in the region and European specifications was also stressed.

    Another issue examined was cooperation in the energy sector and progress achieved in installing southern Europe's gas pipeline was noted.

    Bodo Hombach, the Stability Pact's special coordinator for southeastern Europe, said the European Investment Bank has decided to provide 1.2 billion euro to support 14 investment programs and added that existing problems in the administration, infrastructures and legislation sectors should be overcome to enable the utilization of these funds.

    In the framework of bilateral contacts between national economy ministers from countries in southeastern Europe, Deputy National Economy Minister Yiannis Zaphiropoulos held talks with FYROM's National Economy Minister Besnik Fetai and both agreed to a meeting of experts from the two ministries on March 10 to facilitate the selection of projects to be included in the Greek plan for Balkan reconstruction.

    [12] Greek stocks end volatile session lower

    Athens, 23/02/2001 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended Thursday's highly volatile session lower on the Athens Stock Exchange with the market managing a late and partial rebound from its initial sharply lower opening.

    Traders said investors reappeared, late in the session, in the smaller capitalization sector boosting the day's turnover.

    The general index ended 0.46 percent lower at 3,177.31 points, off the day's lows of 3,146.61 points and the day's highs of 3,209.52. Turnover was an improved 185.98 million euros, or 63.37 billion drachmas, of which 11.90 million euros were pre-agreed transactions.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.65 percent lower at 1,828.35 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index rose 0.04 percent to 362.61 points.

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 1.89 percent higher at 299.25 points.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 195 to 140 with another 24 issues unchanged.

    Alpha Bank, Hellenic Telecoms, Coca Cola, National Bank and Eurobank were the most heavily traded stocks.

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

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 0.65 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 0.04 percent higher.

    Turnover was 57.8 million euros on 9,866 contracts traded, the dealers said.

    Bond prices nose up in brisk trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Thursday finished higher in moderate to heavy trade, dealers said.

    The new Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.43 percent from 5.37 percent a day earlier.

    The yield spread over German bunds was 57 basis points from 55 basis points the day before.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 752 million euros (257 billion drachmas) from 925 million euros (315.9 billion drachmas) in the previous session.

    Buy orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.

    Euro drops vs. dollar: The euro on Thursday stood at 90.56 cents from 91.46 cents against the US dollar a day earlier, according to reference rates released by the European Central Bank (ECB).

    The parity gives an implied rate of 376.25 drachmas versus the US currency, the ECB said in a routine statement.

    Greece joined the euro zone on January 1.

    [13] National Bank presents Greek bond market to foreign investors

    Athens, 23/02/2001 (ANA)

    National Bank of Greece presented the Greek bond market to a group of international investors during an annual bond conference in London this week.

    The conference is addressed to professional bond investors and to some of the largest commercial and investment banks, mutual fund companies and insurance groups of the world. Around 100 such groups were presented to more than 2,000 interested parties during the conference.

    Speakers included Ed Gramlich, a member of the US Federal Reserve, Jean Claude Trichet, Bank of France governor and Otmar Issing, chief economist at the European Central Bank.

    National Bank of Greece also presented the Greek bond market to a group of investors from the southeast Mediterranean region.

    The Greek delegation included the bank's treasury department from Athens and London, NBG International, and the bank's strategic planning and economic analysis department.

    The delegation also included finance ministry officials.

    [14] Greece offers tax breaks for long-term mutual funds' investors

    Athens, 23/02/2001 (ANA)

    The Greek government is offering tax breaks for domestic mutual funds' investors who held their investments stable in the last three years.

    A finance ministry announcement on Thursday said the government would offer one-off tax breaks for the capital spent to buy mutual funds, or 25 percent for sums up to 1,250,600 drachmas, in this year's tax statements.

    [15] Greek harmonized inflation eases to 3.2 percent in January, yr/yr

    Athens, 23/02/2001 (ANA)

    Greece's harmonized inflation eased to 3.2 percent in January, year-on-year, from 3.7 percent in December, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.

    The NSS said the country's average harmonized inflation was 3.0 percent in January.

    Harmonized consumer price index figures are used for price stability comparisons in the euro zone.

    [16] Commercial Bank reports improved results in 2000

    Athens, 23/02/2001 (ANA)

    Commercial Bank of Greece's parent net operating profit, before tax, amounted to 115.3 billion drachmas last year, up 27.7 percent from 1999, the bank said on Thursday.

    Revenue growth was attributed to a rise of net interest income by 16 percent and to a 48.4 percent increase in financial transactions' revenues. Commission revenues, however, fell to 49.7 billion drachmas from 58.7 billion in 1999, reflecting a sharp decline on the Athens Stock Exchange last year.

    Profit growth was also attributed to a cut in operating costs at 5.3 percent, year-on-year, resulting to a fall in the cost-to-income ratio to 47.5 percent in 2000 from 53.3 percent the previous year.

    Net operating profit as a percentage of average assets rose by 2.3 percent, and as a percentage of average equity fell to 18.9 percent, from 22.9 percent in 1999.

    Net equity soared to 631 billion drachmas in 2000, up from 591 billion in 1999 and 198 billion drachmas in 1998.

    Loans grew by 29.8 percent to 2.285 trillion drachmas, up from 1.761 trillion in 1999, driven mainly by small- and medium-sized enterprises and mortgages, which accounted for 33 percent and 15 percent, respectively, of total loan portfolio.

    Net provisions increased by 13.5 billion drachmas at 68.8 billion, or 3 percent of total outstanding loans, following a write-off of 13 billion drachmas.

    Commercial Bank's board will propose to a shareholders' meeting payment of a 450 drachma-per-share dividend, up 50 percent from the previous year.

    Commercial Bank Group is expected to publish its results next month. Pre-tax and after minorities' profit is estimated at 144.2 billion drachmas, up from 136.6 billion last year.

    [17] Greek businesses' four-day exhibition in Skopje opens

    SKOPJE, 23/02/2001 (ANA - B. Giannakidis)

    The 4th Exhibition of Greek Businesses begun in the capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, on Thursday, coinciding with the Balkan Summit, and will last until Sunday.

    The exhibition was organized by the Thessaloniki Trade Fair, with the participation of 71 companies, most of which are based in northern Greece and with the support of the Thessaloniki Port Authority, the Small Industries Chamber of Thessaloniki, the Larissa Chamber of Commerce, the Farmers' Cooperatives of Veria and Serres and the National Bank of Greece.

    [18] Greece to give Romania loan to aid Balkan reconstruction

    Athens, 23/02/2001 (ANA)

    Greece is to give Romania a loan of 80 million euros as part of its plan to spur Balkan reconstruction.

    Payment will be made in installments over five years for projects to be decided by a joint committee from the two countries.

    Deputy National Economy Minister Yiannis Zaphiropoulos discussed details of the loan with Romanias government during a visit to the country.

    Both sides were eager to see the creation of joint ventures in which Romanian businesses would have majority holdings.

    [19] Olympic Airways unions urge dialogue with the government

    Athens, 23/02/2001 (ANA)

    Olympic Airways' workers protested outside the company's main offices in Athens on Thursday, in the framework of a three-hour work stoppage declared by OA's unions, against government plans for the full privatization of Greece's national carrier.

    Union leaders later submitted a resolution to Parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis, ahead of a debate of an amendment envisaging the sale of 100 percent of Olympic Airways.

    The resolution urged the government to withdraw the amendment, to annul a "parody" tender on the company's privatization and to begin an honest dialogue with OA's workers and management to find a viable solution for the company.

    [20] Civil service pilot program for evening opening hours

    Athens, 23/02/2001 (ANA)

    Evening hours for public sector services will gradually begin to be introduced in March, starting with pilot programs in Athens and moving on to Thessaloniki in May, with the rest of the country joining in after June.

    Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou said on Thursday that the first phase would begin on March 5 and involve tax offices in Holargos, Piraeus and Peristeri, which would be open between 14:30 and 20:00 on Monday and Wednesday, a tax office in Glyfada that would open between 14:30 and 20:00 on Monday and Friday, the West Attica Prefecture Administration, which would open between 8:00 and 20:00 from Monday to Friday, as well as the TEBE and OGA social security funds, which would be open from 8:00 until 20:00 on Monday through Wednesday and on Saturday between 9:00 and 13:00.

    She also announced that a new bill is being prepared that will replace many of the documents and certificates currently required by the civil service with signed statements from citizens, the veracity of which would be checked through a 5 per cent random sample system.

    [21] Greece to launch pilot system on civil servants' efficiency rates

    Athens, 23/02/2001 (ANA)

    The Greek government will launch in June a pilot program to measure civil servants' efficiency rates ahead of its full implementation to cover all the public sector by 2003.

    The efficiency and productivity system will be implemented in the civil administration, public sector agencies and local authorities.

    The method to measure efficiency rates is based on a triple evaluation: from the civil service, independent experts and citizens.

    The efficiency rate shows the performance of a public sector service.

    The quality of services, the time to respond to citizens' demands and complaints, the use of technology and the administration costs will help in measuring the productivity and efficiency rate in the civil sector.

    Special units will be set up to government ministries and local authorities to draft efficiency reports to the minister's office.

    [22] Gov't decides against metro extension for second connection of Olympic Stadium

    Athens, 23/02/2001 (ANA)

    The Athens metropolitan subterranean railway will be completed in time for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, without, however, an extra line connecting the Olympic Stadium of Athens to the newly built part of the transportation system, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Thursday, following a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    On its part, the environment, town planning and public works ministry issued a press release noting that buses will be used to connect the newer metro lines to the Athens Olympic Stadium, in conjunction with the suburban railway system, which will also be constructed before the Games.

    The Stadium is already serviced by one metro line, which in-turn is connected to the two newer lines at the center of the city.

    Reppas also clarified that the four planned extensions of the existing subway system will be completed before the Games as well, two of them connecting western Athens suburbs to the system, one connecting the southeast regions and one reaching the northeast, which in-turn will be connected to the planned suburban railway.

    [23] Government planning to give landlords incentives to make their buildings more presentable

    Athens, 23/02/2001 (ANA)

    The government is planning to give citizens incentives to make buildings more presentable, while Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said during a discussion on Thursday on "the improvement of the capital's appearance in light of the 2004 Olympic Games", at Parliament's Cultural Affairs Committee, that a joint ministerial decision will be taken soon addressing problems concerning preservable monuments and including "incentives for landlords to make their buildings more presentable."

    The issue had been raised by PASOK Deputy and former culture and foreign affairs minister Theodoros Pangalos. He had said that if a decision is not taken on the numerous preservable buildings in Athens, that is whether they will be repaired or demolished, the city would be full of ruins in 2004.

    Officials from the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works and Culture ministries, university professors, advertising agents and artists were invited to participate in the discussion.

    [24] EU Commissioner says Schinias could be in Natura 2000

    BRUSSELS, 23/02/2001 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    European Commissioner for the environment Margot Wallstrom said on Thursday that she had been notified of official complaints regarding a rowing and kayaking center for the 2004 Olympics to be built in the Schinias wetlands near Athens. This was reported in an announcement by Greek Euro-MP for the Coalition of the Left, M. Papayiannakis.

    Wallstrom said she had sent letters to Greek authorities, in which she underlined the value of the region for preserving biodiversity and its inclusion in the Natura 2000 list.

    According to Papayiannakis, the Commissioner had said that the area was included in scientific lists of areas designated as special protection zones under EU directives for preserving bird life, natural habitats and wild flora and fauna so that it could be included in Natura 2000.

    Its inclusion is apparently another crucial point in negotiations with Greek authorities because the protected zones in the Mediterranean have not yet been finally determined.

    Wallstrom said that Commission staff have discussed the issue with Greek authorities during meetings held in Athens in December last year, while a meeting took place in January in Brussels with groups opposing the rowing center.

    Papayiannakis said he would raise the issue again during the Euro-Parliament's next session on February 27, in order to "prevent the irreversible annihilation of the most important coastal wetland in Attica."

    [25] Archbishop Christodoulos meets Archbishop of America

    Athens, 23/02/2001 (ANA)

    Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece met in Athens on Thursday night with Archbishop of America Dimitrios.

    Archbishop Dimitrios, who arrived from the Patriarchate, said he discussed with Archbishop Christodoulos the issue of Orthodoxy throughout the world.

    [26] President Clerides on Cyprus peace effort, crisis in Turkey

    NICOSIA, 23/02/2001 (CNA/ANA)

    President Glafcos Clerides has said the UN Secretary General is in the process of deciding whether he will set a date for the continuation of the Cyprus proximity talks, but expressed the view that Kofi Anan may be contemplating if this is the right moment due to the crisis in Turkey.

    Replying to questions on Thursday, President Clerides said the crisis in Turkey may have an adverse effect on Cyprus if it is prolonged, if the army generals step in or if the present government is not in power for long.

    Asked if there is any development concerning the proximity talks, that were initially set to resume last month, the president said:

    "The issue is before the Secretary General, who has been briefed by Alvaro de Soto and will decide whether he will set a date for their continuation."

    "The Secretary General may also be contemplating if this is the right moment to set a date for further talks due to the internal crisis in Turkey," he added.

    De Soto, a Peruvian diplomat appointed as Annan's special adviser for Cyprus, conducted five rounds of proximity talks since 1999.

    Another round was scheduled to take place late January, but Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash is refusing to participate in these separate meetings with UN officials unless his illegal regime in the areas of Cyprus occupied by Turkey since 1974 is recognized and there is a change in the format.

    Asked if he sees any consequences on Cyprus from the crisis that broke out in Turkey, President Clerides said it depends on its outcome and the course it will take.

    "If it is prolonged then this would have negative effects on Cyprus, in the sense that the Turkish government will not be in a position to take decisions," he said.

    President Clerides noted that "it would also be negative if it is resolved with an intervention by the military", while on the other hand "if a compromise is found the question of how long the present Turkish government remains in power arises."

    [27] President Clerides meets Lord Mayor of London

    NICOSIA, 23/02/2001 (CNA/ANA)

    Matters relating to Cyprus' financial services sector, the economy as well as the country's accession course to the European Union and the Cyprus question are at the core of discussion Lord Mayor of London David Howard. He congratulated the Cyprus Stock Exchange on the advanced technology it is using and referring to Cyprus' accession course, he said it will move ahead irrespective of a political settlement.

    "The main purpose of my visit here is to find out about financial services situation in Cyprus and offer help," he told journalists after a meeting with President Glafcos Clerides.

    He said his meetings here would also give him a chance to find out more about the Cyprus problem and discuss the issues of accession to the European Union. Asked to say how the accession course might affect the Cyprus question, he said "the view of the British government is that the accession will go forward whether or not the Cyprus problem is resolved but the government is very keen that the problem should be resolved."

    Later on, he described his meetings at the Stock Exchange as "very interesting" and said he learned something about the development of the electronic trading system that is used in Cyprus.

    Referring to economic indicators, he noted the market is growing quite quickly but the index has not been performing very strongly recently.

    He said at the moment there are difficulties emanating from the restrictions on the movement of capital, which has an effect not only on capital moving out but also on capital coming into the country.

    In his remarks, Paris Lenas, President of the Stock Exchange Board, welcomed the visit, describing it an indication that outsiders are beginning to show an interest in the Cyprus Stock Exchange to see how they can help.

    [28] European Parliament Socialist Group delegation in Cyprus

    NICOSIA, 23/02/2001 (CNA/ANA)

    European Parliament Socialist Group leader Enrique Baron Crespo reiterated here on Thursday the Group's solidarity and support -as well as that of the European Parliament- for Cyprus' accession to the European Union and for a peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem, within the UN framework.

    Speaking after a meeting with Cyprus Social Democrats Movement's President Vassos Lyssarides, Crespo, who is heading a delegation of the Socialist Group, said the Group is following very closely the process of Cyprus' accession negotiations with the EU, adding "Cyprus is one of the most developed and up to day applicant countries."

    He noted with this visit the Group wants to express its solidarity with Cyprus and its sister party here, since parliamentary elections will be taking place in Cyprus in May 2001.

    Lyssarides thanked the Group's representatives "for their work in the European Parliament concerning Cyprus."

    The Cypriot politician said the Socialist Group delegation is here to assist and back the Movement to its campaign for the May parliamentary elections.

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