|Wednesday, 8 April 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-02-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Greek FM meets US counterpart on NATO meeting's sidelines
BRUSSELS, 28/02/2001 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)His first meeting with US Secretary of State Colin Powell had gone well on a personal level, Foreign Minister George Papandreou reported on Tuesday, after a half-hour with his US counterpart in Brussels' Meridien Hotel, on the sidelines of a NATO foreign ministers' council.
Describing the meeting as "warm and friendly," Papandreou said it presaged "very good cooperation" in the future and said that Powell and he had agreed to meet again soon.
"It was a chance to get to know each other and exchange key opinions, though it wasn't possible to examine in detail the wide range of issues that concern the two countries," the Greek minister said.
He said that they had discussed the crisis in south Serbia, in light of the recent Balkan Summit, developments in the Middle East (after recent visits by both Powell and Papandreou to the area), the Cyprus problem, relations between Greece and Turkey, Turkey's EU prospects, European defense in relation with NATO infrastructure and bilateral relations between Athens and Washington.
Responding to reporters' questions, and with the qualification that such a short meeting made comparisons difficult, the Greek foreign minister said that the new US administration did have a different approach on some issues to its predecessor but that these differences were not radical.
According to Papandreou, Powell had praised Greece's role in the Balkans and surrounding regions and its efforts to improve relations with Turkey. On the Cyprus problem, however, he ruled out a new US initiative for the time being, though not in the future.
Immediately after his meeting with Papandreou, Powell met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, who is also in Brussels to attend the NATO foreign ministers' meeting. Papandreou and Cem are also scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the NATO meeting.
 US Secretary of State openly supports European defense system, with NATO aid
BRUSSELS, 28/02/2001 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Tuesday strongly supported the development of the European defense with the use of NATO infrastructures, during a NATO foreign ministers meeting here.
Powell laid to rest concerns of European NATO member-states that the European defense system would not be complementary to NATO.
According to reports, he also promised to "disentangle" the issue that came up between the European Union and non-EU NATO members - such as Turkey, which insist to have a say in EU defense decision- making.
He said, however, "the concerns of NATO members that are not EU members, should be taken into account".
At the sidelines of the meeting, Powell met with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem.
During a press conference at the end of the day, Papandreou said that he and Powell discussed conditions in the Balkans, focusing on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and the Cyprus issue.
Specifically, on the Cyprus issue Papandreou said that Powell informed him that the USA would not charge a special envoy, rather the problem would be handled through the US State Department.
During the press conference, Papandreou also spoke of his meeting with Cem, with whom, he said, he discussed the course of the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) between Greece and Turkey, being negotiated at the level of ambassadors under the auspices of NATO.
He said that they also discussed the "issues pending" regarding bilateral agreements and his visit to Ankara some time over the next two months.
 Croatian PM's visit to Athens highlights closer ties
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)Closer Greek-Croatian ties were all but evident here on Tuesday as the two countries' government leaders held wide-ranging talks on various issues, including the latest crises plaguing the southern Balkans.
Visiting Croatian Prime Minister Ivica Racan told reporters that Greece and Croatia could function as poles of cooperation for the establishment of peace in southeast Europe, whereas his Greek counterpart Costas Simitis again reiterated Athens' standing position against any change of borders in the region as well as support for the status quo.
Both Simitis and Racan will be joined Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson, representing the current EU presidency, in Athens on Wednesday for a conference expected to focus on regional issues.
In other statements, Simitis reiterated that Greece backs Croatia's closer access to Euro-Atlantic institutions, while noting that Croatia is an inseparable part of southeast Europe and highlighting the importance of bilateral cooperation with Zagreb.
Increased Greek-Croatian contacts have multiplied over the past few years following the end of the armed conflicts in Bosnia and in Croatia's border regions with Yugoslavia. Along these lines, Greek President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos is scheduled to pay an official visit to Zagreb in May.
The late Croatian president Franjo Tudjman had arrived for a two-day official visit to Athens in November 1998, the first by a Croatian head of state since the former Yugoslav republic's independence was recognized.
Additionally, both governments have called on entrepreneurs to expand trade relations, while an air transport agreement was signed on Tuesday.
Finally, Racan added that Croatia continues to avidly support the idea of constructing a new coastal highway along the Adriatic that will connect the northern Balkans and south-central Europe with Greece's Ionian coast.
 State Department Human Rights report 2000 sees improvement in condition of minorities in Greece
WASHINGTON, 28/02/2001(ANA-E. Ellis)The condition of minorities in Greece has improved, and relevant complaints have declined or ceased, according to the US State Department's annual report on Human Rights for 2000, in its chapter on Greece, released in Washington late Monday night.
In the introductory section of the 36 pages devoted to Greece, the report noted that Greece was a "constitutional, multi-party democracy" in which the citizens elect their parliamentarians in "free and unbiased" elections.
The report said the Greek government respected citizens' rights in general, but observed isolated instances of police abuse, crowded conditions in a few prisons, and detainment of illegal immigrants in squalid conditions.
The report further said that there were legal restrictions on the freedom of congregation for minority members, while leaders of religious minorities observed a general improvement in the government's tolerance, although certain legal limitations and administrative obstacles on religious freedom remained.
It also made note on the Church-State conflict over the identification cards and charges of adverse treatment of gypsies, and for the first time mentioned the "November 17" terrorist organization and its assassination of British defense attache Brigadier Stephen Saunders last summer.
This year's report also contained 24 pages on Cyprus and 82 on Turkey.
 Gov't responds to press queries over terrorism quips in US report
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)The government on Tuesday reiterated that the problem of terrorism faced by Greece "mainly affects us", in response to press questions over a prolific US State Department report that includes mentions of the country.
"We understate the criticism that is being exercised," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, said, while adding that Athens is working with law enforcement agencies of several other countries, including the United States, in order to stamp out terrorism.
 Greek defense minister attends submarine building initiation ceremony in Kiel, Germany
BERLIN, 28/02/2001 (ANA - P. Stangos)Greek Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Tuesday participated in the submarine building initiation ceremony in Kiel, as construction of one of the three U-214 type submarines, to be built for the Hellenic Navy, began.
"The modernization of the Hellenic Navy aims at securing peace," Tsohatzopoulos said, according to the DPA, Germany's news agency. He also supported the promotion of a European defense industry, without which the realization of the European Policy of Security and Defense is not possible.
Three U-214 type submarines to be built at the northern German Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HDW)/ Ferrostahl shipyard will be equipped with electrical generators, a new type of solid fuel and digital navigational system by industrial giant Siemens. The German multinational's Erlangen-based Industrial Solutions and Services a 75-million navigational system - identified as the state-of-the-art "Nautos" - offered for the new Hellenic Navy subs is considered at present the most modern technology available on an international scale for non-nuclear submarines.
The Siemens unit identified the generators as the "Permasyn" model, which, it claims, are almost noiseless, and the hi-tech solid fuel as the Polymer Elektrolyt Membran (PEM).
Greece has ordered three submarines from the Howaldtswerke-Duetsche Werft AG of Kiel. The other two submarines will be built at Greece's Skaramangas shipyard, west of Athens. Deliveries of the three subs are expected to begin in 2005 and end in 2008.
The subs will be able to submerge to 350 meters bellow the surface and will be manned with a crew of 35.
 Mitsotakis, Jovanovic discuss developments in Yugoslavia, Balkans
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)Visiting Yugoslav former foreign minister Zivadin Jovanovic met Tuesday with main opposition New Democracy honorary president and former premier Constantine Mitsotakis for an exchange of views on developments in Yugoslavia and the Balkans.
No statements were made after the meeting.
Jovanovic, who is in Athens at the invitation of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), was likely to hold talks with other political figures as well, sources said.
Communist Party of Greece leader meets with former Yugoslav foreign minister: Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga on Tuesday received former Yugoslav foreign minister Zivadin Jovanovic and discussed conditions in southern Serbia and Kosovo.
Papariga and Jovanovic appeared to have common positions on the conditions in the Balkans and especially those in southern Serbia.
They both criticized the Albanians "for causing violent incidents in Kosovo and southern Serbia" and the KFOR peacekeepers for the way they were implementing their efforts.
"The Albanian terrorists threaten the stability of the region and if KFOR and in general the peacekeeping forces performed their duties, separatist terrorism and separatist action would not develop," Jovanovic said.
Papariga stressed that "parties and forces" should mobilize after what she called the "lukewarm" joint statement of Balkan leaders at the end of the Summit in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) last week.
 Government rules out change to date of EU anniversary events
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas ruled out any change to the date of celebrations for the 20th anniversary since Greece joined the European Union on Tuesday, dismissing protests from main opposition New Democracy, which said that the proposed date coincides with the start of its previously announced party congress.
Reppas said that the appropriate departments had settled the issue. The main opposition, he added, could send representatives since the distances involved were not so great and the location, date and other aspects of the event had been decided on for some time.
 Greece cites UN treaties in withdrawing 'Asia Minor genocide' decree
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)Greece will act within the framework of international treaties said government spokesman Dimitris Reppas on Tuesday, in relation to a controversial presidential decree that established a remembrance day for the 'genocide' of Asia Minor Greeks at the hands of Turkish forces in a 1922 war between Greece and Turkey.
Voted on two years ago and approved as constitutional by the Council of State, the September 14 Remembrance Day was strong opposed by Ankara and was finally withdrawn by the government in an attempt to preserve progress in Greek-Turkish rapprochement.
In response to questions on the government's decision to withdraw the decree, Reppas said that Greece had certain commitments arising from the 1948 treaties drafted by the United Nations and signed by Greece. He said that these treaties "make specific provisions for the ways in which someone may refer to and define certain historical events as genocide."
The spokesman added that relations between Greece and Turkey could not be affected by historic events and that the course of the two countries must comply fully with their commitments as members of the international community.
 Albanian minority leader comments on FYROM-Kosovo border to Greek newspaper
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)Tetovo's Albanians do not recognize the border agreement between the Skopje and Belgrade, at least where this concerns the border between the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Kosovo, Albanian minority leader Arben Xhaferi said on Tuesday in an interview with northern Greece's "Macedonia" newspaper.
Xhaferi is head of the Democratic Party of Albanians, which is part of the government coalition in FYROM.
According to Xhaferi, the border should be decided with the Albanians of Kosovo for the section concerning the FYROM-Kosovo border and with Belgrade for the border with Serbia.
Commenting on recent armed attacks against a police station in the FYROM village of Tearce by the self-proclaimed "National Liberation Army," Xhaferi claimed that there was no organized armed Albanian movement in the area but just some "isolated hotheads" and he ruled out any connection with this group and the Kosovo Liberation Army or the armed groups acting in south Serbia.
 Weak blue chips push Athens bourse lower
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)Blue chip stocks remained under pressure on the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, pushing the general index lower despite gains in smaller capitalization stocks.
Traders said the Greek bourse has developed into a two-tier market recently and noted that the market would move higher only when blue chips start advancing.
The general index ended 0.33 percent lower at 3,154.03 points, off the day's highs of 3,174.29 points and the day's lows of 3,132.54. Turnover was a low 143.78 million euros, or 48.995 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 0.77 percent to 1,803.69 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index jumped 2.05 percent to 370.64 points.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 6,687.33
-1.34% Leasing: 517.78 -1.64% Insurance: 1,416.94 -0.34% Investment: 1,260.04 -1.01% Construction: 1,459.55 +3.80% Industrials: 1,957.71 +0.46% Miscellaneous: 2,432.84 +1.86% Holding: 3,462.31 +0.79%
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks jumped 5.14 percent to 319.67 points.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 270 to 69 with another 18 issues unchanged.
Alpha Bank, Hellenic Telecoms, Naoussa Spinning, National Bank and Klonatex were the most heavily traded stocks.
Leading shares' closing prices (in euros): National Bank: 37.64 Alpha Bank: 30.54 Commercial Bank: 49.94 Eurobank: 19.92 Piraeus Bank: 14.78 Lambrakis Press: 13.30 Titan Cement (c): 37.74 Hellenic Telecoms: 15.88 Panafon: 6.72 Hellenic Petroleum: 9.36 Attica Enterprises: 7.16 Intracom: 20.08 Minoan Lines: 5.28 Viohalco: 10.32 Coca Cola Bottling: 18.60
Equity futures end mixed, tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished mixed on Tuesday, in line with the bourse indices on which they are based, traders said.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 0.77 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 2.05 percent higher.
Turnover was 24.758 million euros on 4,145 contracts traded, the dealers said.
Bond prices rise in buying spree: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Tuesday finished higher in heavy trade with bulk buying seen mostly in short-term paper, dealers said.
The new Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.35 percent from 5.37 percent a session earlier.
The yield spread over German bunds was 58 basis points from 57 basis points the session before.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 1.057 billion drachmas from 695 million euros in the previous session.
Buy orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.
 Hellenic Stock Exchanges shows Dr 40.6 billion profit
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)Hellenic Stock Exchanges on Tuesday announced that its consolidated earnings before tax and minorities totalled 40.6 billion drachmas in 2000 on consolidated turnover of 52.6 billion drachmas.
Gross profits totalled 41 billion drachmas while operating profits were 40 billion drachmas and net consolidated earnings after minorities came to 29.7 billion drachmas, the company said in a statement.
Among the group's members are the Athens Stock Exchange, the Central Share Depository, the Thessaloniki Stock Exchange Center and the Athens Derivatives Exchange.
 OTE Group shows profit rise before end of monopoly
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)The OTE Group on Tuesday reported consolidated earnings after tax of 251 billion drachmas in 2000 from 162.7 billion drachmas a year earlier, up 54.2 percent, in the final year before the abolition of its monopoly in the fixed-line market.
OTE's consolidated pre-tax profits last year rose to 348.4 billion drachmas, up 21.6 percent on 1999, the parent company said in a statement.
Consolidated turnover in 2000 totalled 1,227.8 billion drachmas, posting an 11.3 percent rise from a year earlier, which management attributed to robust results by the company's mobile phone arm, Cosmote, and to new services, the statement said.
Cosmote showed a 210 percent rise in earnings before tax to 33.9 billion drachmas from 10.9 billion drachmas in 1999. Turnover jumped to 207 billion drachmas from 117 billion drachmas, recording a 76 percent increase, it added.
The OTE Group's earnings per share totalled 503 drachmas per share, up 56 percent on 1999, due to a rise in net profits and to a share buyback scheme implemented by management, the statement said.
 Tax breaks on mutual funds' holders to be implemented from 2004
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)Greece's finance ministry on Tuesday said that a plan to offer tax breaks to mutual funds investors would be implemented from 2004 and not from 2001 as initially said.
The plan envisages that mutual funds investors, who retain their holdings for a period up to three years, will be offered tax breaks on their capital income.
Deputy Finance Minister Apostolos Fotiadis said the plan offered an one-off 25 percent discount to the initial capital spent for the purchase of domestic equity and combined mutual funds up to 1,250,000 drachmas.
Fotiadis also announced new measures to facilitate companies to write-off losses suffered from securities' transactions in 2000. The plan envisages that companies could write-off losses in their balance sheets in the years 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.
 Bank of Cyprus plans to buy Greek stock brokerage
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)The Bank of Cyprus Group announced on Tuesday that it had made an preliminary agreement to acquire Victory, a Greek stock brokerage.
Kostas Vasilakopoulos, a former general director at Ergasias Bank, and Angeliki Petroulaki-Zafirakou, ex general director of the banks brokerage, set up the brokerage at the beginning of 2000 the Bank of Cyprus said in a statement.
 Greece seeks to base European Security Agency in Piraeus
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)Greece said on Tuesday it would vie for a European Security Agency (ESA) to be based in Piraeus.
Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, said the government would ask the European Commission to approve the ESA to be based in Greece's largest port.
The idea to create the new agency was proposed last September in an effort to help member-states in continuously implementing shipping regulation, data collection and drafting of new proposals aimed to improve safety in the European shipping industry. Papoutsis said he discussed issues relating to the domestic passenger shipping sector ahead of the presentation of a draft bill to deregulate the market, due in the next few days.
He said that the draft bill will envisage the creation of a harbor secretariat to supervise harbor infrastructure projects.
 Hellenic Petroleum reports 41.8 percent rise in pre-tax profits
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)Hellenic Petroleum on Tuesday reported a 41.8 percent rise in its pre-tax profits last year to 83.3 billion drachmas, while group profits rose 47 percent to 94.7 billion drachmas over the same period.
The group's chairman, Eleftherios Tzellas, presenting last year's results, said Hellenic Petroleum's board will seek approval from its shareholders on a plan to pay a 70 drachmas per share dividend to shareholders, for a dividend return of 2.1 percent.
Tzellas said the company was aiming to transform into an energy group, expanding in the electricity and natural gas markets. Hellenic Petroleum already owns a 35 percent equity stake in Natural Gas Public Enterprise and considers raising its stake in the company.
Hellenic Petroleum also plans to expand in the geographical area expanding to Poland. Tzellas said expansion plans would be decided following negotiations with a foreign energy group for a stock swap with Hellenic Petroleum. The negotiations are expected to be completed in 2001.
Group investments totalled 121.9 billion drachmas last year with the aim to reach 600 billion in the next five years. The company plans to produce fuel based on new environmentally-friendly standards ahead of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and to achieve annual earnings of 150 billion drachmas.
Group turnover totalled 1.5 trillion drachmas in 2000, while its share in the distillate product market rose to 59.1 percent from 52.5 percent in 1999.
 Northern firm buys FYROM tile maker
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)Thessaloniki-based Success International announced on Tuesday it had bought Keramika Intustria Kumanovo, the largest tile manufacturing works in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
The Success Group said in a statement that the move would help it to expand in the building materials sector.
 Greek business delegation discusses economic cooperation in Belgrade
BELGRADE, 28/02/2001 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)Representatives of about 100 Greek businesses had bilateral contacts here on Tuesday with the purpose of developing economic cooperation in sectors of mutual interest.
The Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece and other agencies organized the business delegation.
About 400 Serbian businesses requested contacts with Greek businessmen, focusing their interest on small and medium-size enterprises and the energy, communications, telecommunications and banking sectors.
The delegation is headed by Minister of Macedonia and Thrace George Paschalidis who addressed a conference on Tuesday on an issue concerning the Greek plan on Balkan reconstruction, anticipating 70 billion drachmas for Serbia and Montenegro.
 Employment minister says Labor Force Employment Organization to provide employment opportunities for 52,000 unemployed
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)Labor and Social Insurances Minister Tassos Giannitsis on Tuesday said the Labor Force Employment Organization (OAED) will create a "package" of activities in 2001, costing 113 billion drachmas and providing employment or training opportunities for 52,000 unemployed.
A total of 16,000 unemployed will benefit from training programs and 10,000 will participate in the "integrated activities" programs, while 26,050 unemployed will have the opportunity of employment.
Referring to difficulties in the payment of pensions at branch offices of the Agricultural Bank of Greece for about 25,000 pensioners, Giannitsis acknowledged the problem and apologized for the inconvenience experienced by beneficiaries.
On the question of discussions on the insurance issue, Giannitsis said the government will only open the issue when it will be ready.
 Social Security Foundation pensioners suffer long queues to receive their monthly payment
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)Social Security Foundation (IKA) pensioners faced long queues as they tried to receive their pensions, on Tuesday throughout the country, but mainly in Athens, as the Agricultural Bank of Greece (ATE) that was charged to make the payments faced larger than expected numbers of IKA pensioners who showed up to receive their payment.
IKA charged ATE to handle the burden of payments for pensioners who did not receive their pensions in their bank accounts, as well as pensioners who did not register with the new system.
"ATE, on its own initiative and showing social sensitivity - without any benefit - undertook the hard work of payments of pensions to 185,000 persons, who did not register with the on line payment system," a bank press release said.
The press release added that although the bank requested that pensioners appear in alphabetical order on certain days, the request was not adhered to and as a result the existing infrastructure of the bank was unable to deal with an emergency situation of this magnitude.
Meanwhile, there were problems with the computer network of the bank, as the connection of that system with that of other banks failed at times, adding to the existing problem.
 Greece to carry out population census March 18
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)Greece will carry out a population and housing census on March 18, in the framework of an European Union plan to register the population in Europe in 2001.
The census has three characteristics: it is obligatory for all inhabitants in the country, all information will be classified and there will be no religious restrictions.
National Economy and Finance Minister, Yiannos Papantoniou, urged citizens to support this national effort to carry out the "first census of the new millennium".
Papantoniou said the government also planned to carry out a census of all Greeks living abroad.
He noted that Greece now has to win the bet of economic growth in the period 2001-2004. "To achieve this we need all the right information and the population census will offer all the necessary data," Papantoniou said.
The census will be carried out by 150,000 specially trained people who will visit every household in the country. The census will include Greek citizens, foreigners, economic immigrants and travelers.
 Greek agriculture minister argues for beef subsidies as Greek beef prices hold their own
BRUSSELS, 28/02/2001 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)Greek beef consumption and its price has not declined following the consumer lack of confidence that was based on animal diseases, thus it is difficult to explain to Greek producers a reduction in subsidies and subsequently a reduction in production, Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis told a European Union farm ministers meeting here on Tuesday.
"It is difficult for the Greek producer to understand the reasons for reducing his production and conversely his income, while for several years now he is expending great effort to secure the viability of his enterprise," he said.
In any case, the minister said, Greece knows that it is operating as part of a unified market, where problems are common and should be confronted in the same way by all member-states of the European Union.
The 15 ministers could not agree on a common way to deal with major Union-wide problems regarding meat production and price supports.
France and Portugal argued that the Union should subsidize the destruction of all suspect animals in an effort to regain consumer confidence and thus boost prices and eventually production.
To the contrary, Germany, Denmark and Sweden argued that the Union should curtail subsidies thus lowering incentives to new production in efforts to boost sagging prices.
Greece currently produces only 30 per cent of the beef consumed in the country. Prices of Union, non-Greek grown beef, sagged following the "mad cow" decease outbreak that made consumers shy.
 Culture minister and IOC general director discuss Cultural Olympiad
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday discussed issues concerning the Cultural Olympiad with the International Olympic Committee's general director Francois Carrard.
According to the culture ministry, the discussion was the continuation of the meeting between Venizelos and Jacques Rogge, since Carrard had been unable to participate in the delegation of the IOC's Coordinating Committee, which recently visited Greece, due to illness.
For the government and the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee, the Cultural Olympiad is a basic element for a successful Olympiad, which will promote Greek culture and the sports ideal
 Culture minister and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador discuss new production concerning Acropolis
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday discussed a new production on the Acropolis, to be presented in June at the Herod Atticus theatre and whose receipts will be provided for the Child's Foundation, with the President of the Child's Foundation and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Marianna Vardinoyianni and French composer Jean-Michel Jarre.
The event will be placed under the auspices of the Cultural Olympiad since, according to Venizelos, its spirit is fully harmonized with the Cultural Olympiad's spirit and aims.
Venizelos revealed that a part of the event's receipts will also be provided for the return of the Parthenon Marbles and the new Acropolis museum. Jarre's concert has been scheduled for June 19-20.
 Culture minister meets US ambassador to Athens
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos met on Tuesday with US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns and discussed the various activities of the American School of Classical Studies in Greece.
 Ship's captain testifies to Nautical Accidents Council
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)The captain of the fateful "Express Samina" ferry, in which 80 people lost their lives when it sank on the night of September 26 just off the coast of Paros, testified before the Supreme Council for Nautical Accidents on Tuesday regarding his role in the disaster.
In his testimony, Capt. Vassilis Yiannakis claimed that his first officer, Anastasios Psychogios, had delayed waking him up by 13 minutes, while he said it was the job of the ship's first mate to be responsible for the use of life-saving equipment.
Asked whether passengers had been shown how to use the life-saving equipment on board, Yiannakis said he had repeatedly asked ship owners Minoan Flying Dolphins (MFD) for a demonstration video that he could show the passengers but had never received one.
The "Express Samina" had sunk after it collided with a well-charted rocky outcrop near Paros called "Portes" and breached its hull. Survivors later accused the crew of not providing adequate assistance to passengers and charged that life-saving equipment was in sub-standard condition.
Psychogios had testified before the same Council a month earlier, while ship's engineer Anastasios Sorokas is due to testify on March 8.
Sorokas had reported that the ship was unfit to sail about one week before the shipwreck, when he had already left the employ of MFD. Two subsequent inspections, including one by Coast Guard officers, had given the ship the all-clear.
The Nautical Accidents Council also plans to call up two seamen that were on the bridge on the fateful night of the accident.
During Tuesday's inquiry, Council members focused on training exercises that passenger ferry crews should carry out at regular intervals, following reports that these are carried out in a slipshod manner.
 No offences perpetrated by OTE officials signing telecommunications organization purchases
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)A special investigator has decided that there is no ground for filing charges against officials of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), who had signed the buyouts of the Romanian, Serbian, Moldovan and Armenian telecommunication organizations, and of the INTRAKOM company who had undertaken to provide these organizations with telecommunications equipment.
Special investigator George Zois has completed the main investigation he had undertaken on the issue as of November 1999, and has reached the above conclusion.
Athens prosecutor Panayiotis Angelopoulos had conducted a preliminary investigation over a period of months concerning press reports that the buyouts of the telecommunications organizations of the above countries had taken place with non transparent processes, resulting in the Greek state losing hundreds of millions of drachmas.
Zois has forwarded the file of proceedings to an appeals court prosecutor who will either endorse his view and propose the issuing of a decree of acquittal or order a supplementary investigation.
 Prosecutor asks for the maximum penalty against man charged with immigrants' murders in Athens
Athens, 28/02/2001 (ANA)Life in prison summed up the arguments of an Athens prosecutor on Tuesday who closed his arguments in court against the alleged murderer, who left two foreigners dead and another seven injured during a shooting spree in down town Athens, in 1999.
The prosecutor called for Pantelis Kazakos, 23, to be sentenced to life in prison on two counts of murder and multiple prison sentences for the injuries he caused to the other seven persons
Police arrested Kazakos in October 1999 along with another man after Kazakos reportedly ran amok on the streets of downtown Athens, gunning down anyone resembling a foreigner, especially dark-skinned ones.
Two men were killed while another seven were hospitalized, at least three with severe injuries.
His attorney told reporters at the time of his arrest that his client had reiterated that he had resorted to using illegal narcotics after the death of his mother, while he claimed he had been attacked by two Albanians on a bus.
This event and his witnessing scenes of Albanians in Greece burning a Greek flag at a recent soccer match infuriated him, with the attorney saying his client spoke of "taking the law into his own hands".
Apostolos Apostolou, the other man, who was originally charged as an accessory to manslaughter was released at the time and on Tuesday the prosecutor asked the court to clear him of all charges relating to the murders.
 President Clerides holds talks with Russian Foreign Ministry Representative for Cyprus
NICOSIA, 28/02/2001 (CNA/ANA)Russian Foreign Ministry Special Representative for Cyprus, Vladimir Prygin, said here on Tuesday that the only way to find a solution to the Cyprus problem was through the continuation of the talks under the auspices of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Speaking after a meeting with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, Prygin said the Greek Cypriot side had the will to continue the process of negotiations, adding that he expected a similar approach on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots.
Prygin said he was due to meet later in the day with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and expressed hope that the Turkish Cypriot side would show its willingness to continue the process, which he said "is the only way towards a mutually acceptable and beneficial solution of the Cyprus problem".
Referring to his visit to Cyprus, Prygin said his country had meetings with all interested parties, i.e. the two sides in Cyprus, the Greek and Turkish governments, the members of the UN Security Council and the Group of Eight most developed countries of the world.
Prygin said the current situation was not easy and expressed regret over the recent break in the talks, noting that Moscow appreciates "the readiness of the Greek Cypriot side to continue the talks further".
He said patience and will were necessary to promote the pending issues, as well as political will to reach a comprehensive settlement, which would meet the interests of Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
Asked if Cyprus' accession to the European Union (EU) would help towards achieving a settlement, Prygin said "Russia is not an EU member" and noted that "the EU's role in the Cyprus problem is important" and that "the EU seems to be becoming more and more involved in international efforts to help promote a settlement".
Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third, is among the first six countries that opened accession talks with the EU in 1998 and is considered to lead the other candidates in adopting European laws and regulations.
Prygin said "Russia already participates in a very active way in the search for a lasting, viable and comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem".
UN-led proximity talks began in December 1999. Five rounds of proximity talks have taken place so far, but Denktash is refusing to participate in another round of separate meetings with the UN officials unless the illegal regime in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus is recognized and there is a change in the procedure of the talks and their basis.
 US State Department report on human rights in Cyprus
WASHINGTON, 28/02/2001 (CNA/ANA)A US State Department report on human rights in Cyprus for the year 2000 refers to restrictions on freedom of movement in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus and says the treatment of Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the occupied areas does not meet the terms of a 1975 agreement to respect the human rights of these people.
The report notes that the government of the Republic of Cyprus generally respected human rights and refers to a Turkish Cypriot administration in the northern part of the island, noting that it is not recognized by either the US or any other country except Turkey.
Democratic principles generally are respected in Cyprus, the report says, but points to continuing restrictions of movement in occupied Cyprus, such as freedom to change their place of residence at will, limit on visits and their duration to the government-controlled areas, limitations on travel in the occupied part, restrictions on educational and religious rights and limited access by UN officers to Greek Cypriots and Maronites.
On police practice, the report says there were "credible reports of pervasive police abuse of power and routine harsh treatment of detainees" in the Turkish Cypriot community.
It also notes that "police" in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus are directed by the military authorities there.
It notes action by the occupation regime against newspapers and journalists and inconsistency in the regime's policy to permit Greek Cypriot journalists to travel as well as restrictions on bicommunal meetings.
The report notes the recent cases of Turkish Cypriot Omer Tekogul, on trial in the Republic' free areas for drug possession and trafficking, and of Greek Cypriot Panicos Tziakourmas for "marijuana possession", who was abducted by Turkish agents within the territory of one of two British Bases the UK has retained since Cyprus became an independent state.
A Bases police investigation "found no evidence of marijuana", the report says of Tziakourmas' case and points to a threat by a Turkish Cypriot that Greek Cypriots would "disappear" if Tekogul is not set free.
The report says Turkish occupation forces established a "new manned checkpoint" in Strovilia village, on the south east, which controls the approach to the village and adds "despite protests from UNFICYP and others, Turkish forces remained at the contested checkpoint in violation of the status quo."
It refers to Turkey's continuing refusal to comply with a European Court of Human Rights of the Council of Europe ruling which said
Ankara committed a continuing violation of the rights of a Greek Cypriot woman, Titina Loizidou, by preventing her from going to her property in occupied Cyprus.
The Council's Committee of Ministers has since issued two resolutions urging Turkey to comply and is considering the text of a third one.
On the humanitarian issue of missing persons, the report says a tripartite committee, set up in the early 1980s to investigate the fate of missing persons, has made little progress.
Progress to implement a 1997 agreement on this issue has been delayed due to Turkish Cypriot reluctance to proceed without first fully accounting for those who may have been killed in July 1974 prior to the Turkish invasion. The government of Cyprus has already communicated to the UN a list of those killed during the military coup that preceded the invasion in July 1974.
The report refers to the process of exhumation instigated unilaterally by the government of the Republic to identify remains buried in the government-controlled part of the island.
The US report notes that Turkey was found responsible by the European Commission of Human Rights of the Council of Europe for human rights violations in Cyprus stemming from the 1974 invasion, after the government filed a recourse against Ankara. The Court reserved judgment for a later date.
Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of Cyprus territory in July 1974, forcibly uprooting some 200,000 Greek Cypriots, making one third of the island's population, from their homes and properties.
On the economy, the State Department 2000 report says the government-controlled part of Cyprus has a robust, service-oriented economy with tourism generating 22 per cent of gross domestic product and employing 29 per cent of the labor force.
The economy in the occupied areas relies heavily on subsidies from Turkey and has a per capita income of just over 5,000 US dollars.