According to the press release, the two leaders discussed issues affecting the Balkans. The Greek premier briefed the American president that Greece was against any border changes in the Balkans, supported respect of democratic processes and implementation of international law.
The US president expressed his appreciation for Greeces role in supporting peace and stability in the region, and stressed that all US initiatives in Southeastern Europe will be implemented in consultation with its allies in the region.
Simitis briefed Bush on Greeces opinion on the Cyprus problem and the island republics European Union accession course, underlining the need for the continuation of talks under the auspices of the United Nations.
On his part, Bush stated that the US is interested in preserving peace in the region and supported the UN efforts for a resolution of the Cyprus problem.
He also congratulated Simitis for his initiatives and contribution in the peaceful development of Greek-Turkish relations, as Simitis had already briefed him on Greeces support for Turkeys European course, which the Greek premier noted would contribute to the development and stability in the region and the further improvement of Greek-Turkish relations.
At the close of their conversation, Bush proposed a meeting with Simitis who accepted the invitation.
Simitis was responding to a question put by Coalition of the Left leader Nikos Constantopoulos, while stressing that public statements on this issue in Parliament hampered the negotiating process.
He did say, however, that the issue had been discussed during a recent meeting with his FYROM counterpart Ljupco Georgievski in Skopje, on the sidelines of the Balkan Summit, and that they had both agreed that the matter must be resolved as quickly as possible.
"We seek a solution that can be beneficial to both sides," Simitis added, "and are handling the issue responsibly and realistically." He said it would be a mistake to take an approach that weighed up the political costs and benefits of a solution on the home front.
The prime minister also stressed that the situation had changed radically since the early 1990s, due to the 1999 war in Yugoslavia and changes in the local economy. "It would be wrong for us to see things using the tools and ideas of an age gone by," he said.
Simitis reiterated Greece's position that a double name was not acceptable, but only a solution based on the international name.
He concluded by saying that Greece had never spoken disparagingly about any Balkan country and that it seeks friendship and cooperation with them, while noting that FYROM now absorbs 25 per cent of Greek exports in the Balkans and that Greek investments have created 5,000 jobs in that country.
Greece objects to the use of the name 'Macedonia' adopted by the breakaway Yugoslav republic when it seceded from Yugoslavia in 1990, which is also the name of a historic northern Greek province, the birthplace of antiquity's Alexander the Great. FYROM considers the name 'Macedonia' to be intrinsic to its identity as a state.
Apart from talks with his Austrian counterpart Benita Ferero - Waldner, Papandreou will be meeting Austrian President Thomas Klestil, Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, Parliament President Heinz Fischer and main opposition Social democrat Party leader Alfred Gusenbauer.
Papandreou will also visit the Metropolitan of Austria and Exarch of Hungary and Central Europe Michael and meet members of the century-long Greek community in Vienna at a special reception to be given by Waldner, who will accompany him to the famous Vienna State Opera to see the performance of "Ariadne in Naxos"
Papandreou's visit is the first official bilateral contact between a member of the Greek government with the Austrian political and state leadership, following the coming to power of the new Austrian coalition government formed by the conservative People's Party and the far-right and nationalist Freedom Party on February 4 last year. The visit also coincides with the assumption of duties by the new Austrian Ambassador to Athens Rene Polizer, who has also served as director of former Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima's diplomatic office.
A government spokesman told reporters that the Bank of Greece, the country's central bank, along with other financial institutions, had frozen several hundred "suspect" accounts, although none were listed in Milosevic's name.
Spokesman Dimitris Reppas added that Athens has made the information collected by the Bank of Greece available to relevant international agencies, while at the same time briefing the Yugoslav central bank.
Closer Greek-Croatian ties were all but evident in Athens last week when a high-ranking Croatian delegation, headed by Prime Minister Ivica Racan, officially visited Greece.
In comments to the international news network CNN, the Greek diplomat responsible for expatriate affairs, Dimitris Dollis, said Greece, as the only member of the EU in southeast Europe, wants to ensure that all of the peoples in the Balkans have the opportunity of joining the Union.
"Greece will offer all the assistance it can within the framework of the EU, as well as offer advice and solidarity for that country's (Croatia) preparation so it is ready to join the European family. We'll do what we can for this matter because we believe Croatia entails an important factor in the region we live in," he said.
Asked if Greece will back Zagreb's -- and others' -- request to bring former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic before an international court at The Hague, Dollis simply noted that Athens backs all the measures taken by the Kostunica government in Belgrade.
The visiting Greek defense minister said that the content of the initiatives would be discussed during the visit of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to Greece, which is expected to take place some time during the next few weeks.
Both ministers agreed that the "unacceptable situation" in the Middle East should stop and dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians should begin as soon as possible.
They also discussed conditions in the Balkans, Kosovo and the Caucasus, an issue Tsohatzopoulos said, that is of importance to the eastern Mediterranean due to the international competition for energy sources.
The two defense ministers signed new military cooperation agreements, regarding joint naval exercises and the peacekeeping training of Tunisian military officers in Greece. In addition, they signed a memorandum of understanding of armaments procurement and an agreement of cooperation between the marine mapping services of the two countries.
Tsohatzopoulos concluded his visit in Tunisia on Friday and will depart for Syria where he will meet with his Syrian counterpart Mustafa Talas upon his arrival on Saturday.
In Syria he will meet with the country's Orthodox Christian Patriarch Ignatio IV Hatzim and on Sunday he will be received by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the country's Prime Minister Mustafa Muhammad Miru.
ATHOC foresees employment of some 147,000 individuals during the Games, along with a projected figure of 17,000 attending athletes, 20,000 journalists and up to 50,000 volunteers.
Among others, ATHOC president Gianna Angelopoulos - Daskalaki noted that the voluminous tome covers areas related to security, transports, telecommunications, press needs and cooperation with local government entities.
She also mentioned that a "small delay" has been recorded in the selection of an events coordinator for the inaugural and closing 2004 ceremonies, while adding that the selection process is still within the deadlines set out by the IOC.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Angelopoulos - Daskalaki later held a private meeting after the master plan was unveiled.
He said Greece will provide all the help it can, in the framework of its possibilities and that of the EU, as well as every advice and support for the country's preparation to enable it to be ready to join the European family.
Referring to developments in Yugoslavia, Dollis also said "stability in the Balkans requires a stable Yugoslavia. A stable Yugoslavia has good ties with Croatia. And, of course, it is logical that when we contribute to achieving greater stability we achieve greater progress and prosperity and the peoples live better."
Speaking late on Thursday night, Dollis said the 3,000-4,000 Greeks resident abroad that would join the Olympics volunteers corps would be the "backbone" of this effort and the connecting link between Greece and visitors to the country, whether these were officials, athletes or just ordinary people.
He said the large Greek expatriate community would give the country an original advantage over previous Olympics host-countries, since they would be able to field volunteers that were both Greeks but also well integrated members of other states, with a detailed knowledge of their language and customs.
Karamanlis handed Stephanopoulos a copy of a report compiled by a ND investigation team on the issue, stressing the need for an immediate review of voting lists with the cooperation of all political parties.
Karamanlis added that following the government's refusal to back an ND proposal establishing a parliamentary fact-finding commission to probe the issue, New Democracy would continue its efforts to combat such instances, "which harm the democratic form of government and expose Greece internationally".
Parliament early on Wednesday defeated an ND motion to set up a fact-finding committee in Parliament to investigate the claims of illegal naturalizations and vote rigging in last year's general elections through the registration of illegally naturalized foreigners, mostly from the former Soviet Union.
The ND motion was defeated by 150 votes against and 115 for in the 300-member House, with MPs of the ruling PASOK, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) voting against the motion.
In response, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said ND is attempting to create problems with the political scene, while Karamanlis is attempting to turn ND into a "protest party".
"Mr. Simitis forgot the period when the media had muzzled him as well," Karamanlis said and accused the government of "arrogance, lacking multiple views and authoritarianism."
Karamanlis gave a gloomy picture of the image of the state in Greece, saying it constitutes the real mirror "of those enjoying power and behaving like conquerors and plunderers of the state."
"It is those who rule and take decisions who are absolutely responsible. Those who spoke of modernization and who reached refurbishing. Those who look at party identity cards and brush aside the worthy and those who imposed regime practices and mentalities," he said.
"We Greeks can do better. Only the present government cannot because it has become tired and it is tedious because it has become stuck on indicators. However, Greece can no longer waste its time and the new generation cannot tolerate the future it deserves leaving before it," Karamanlis said.
The diplomat, British defense attachť Brig. Stephen Saunders, was shot and fatally injured on morning of June 8 by two gunmen on a motorcycle as he was driving alone from his home in the Nea Eritrea suburb to the British embassy in downtown Athens. The notorious "November 17" terrorist organization claimed the attack in a proclamation sent to an Athens daily.
In a proclamation sent to an Athens daily, the shadowy group claimed Saunders was a key figure in designing NATO's 1999 bombing campaign in Serbia and Kosovo, which was later denied by British authorities.
A British Embassy announcement said a short prayer service in memory of Saunders would be held Saturday evening at St. Paul's Anglican Church on Philellinon Street in downtown Athens to mark "Psychosavato", a day of remembrance for the departed in the Greek Orthodox Church.
"November 17 has suffered a moral and political defeat and it is left with only its gun-totting murderer," he said, stressing that Greek citizens have no feelings of sympathy for that organization.
To the contrary, he added, Greek citizens show their disgust for the crimes of the elusive terrorist group that has been active since 1975 and are showing willingness to aid the police in its investigation.
In discussing the security conditions during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, he said that the government received positive comments for its accomplishments in providing security for the Games, adding that the efforts would continue to ensure that both Greeks and foreign visitors would have no reason for concern.
Due to the recent publication in the magazine Nemesis of letters Margaret Papandreou had sent to her son, Foreign Minister George Papandreou, through an electronic computer, Margaret Papandreou has also sued Kanelli for 500 million drachmas. The lawsuit will be discussed next month.
In her requests for restraining orders discussed on Friday, Margaret Papandreou mentions that the case is a question of electronic tapping of her letters, adding that their publication offends her personal life.
During her testimony, Kanelli refused to disclose how the letters in question reached her. She argued that Margaret Papandreou sent the letters to George Papandreou not as her son but as foreign minister and in public issues the concept of private or personal does not apply.
Drys said that the budget was the ultimate state legislation and that it could not be violated.
Speaking to reporters, he announced that from 2002 all government ministries would have to draft three-year budgets to avoid last-minute spending rolling over to the next fiscal year.
Drys said that the finance ministry has already sent a circular to all government agencies on the guidelines of next year's budget, expected to be submitted to parliament earlier than in the past, by October 31.
He said that January figures showed that budget revenues rose 14.7 percent, surpassing the annual target of 8.2 percent, spending growth slowed substantially to 0.9 percent from a target of 7.9 percent, interest payment growth fell 6.5 percent, from a target of -2.6 percent, while a public investments program showed a low rate of funds' absorption.
The conference is organized by international newspaper Herald Tribune and aims to promote Greek economy's achievements in the euro zone with the hope to become a platform for the Greek government to stress its main economic targets.
Other speakers include Yiannis Stournaras, Commercial Bank of Greece's chairman, who will brief participants for changes in the country's financial system.
Papantoniou will meet on Monday with his British counterpart Gordon Brown and later will address the London School of Economics on coordination policies in the euro zone.
The Greek minister will have a working lunch with diplomatic and financial editors from the British press to present them the course of the Greek economy in the euro zone.
The economic confidence indicator is a complex indicator, whose main parameters are the confidence indicators of consumers, industry, the building sector and developments in share prices.
The confidence indicator only increased in two member states: Ireland by 0.3 percent and Italy by 0.1 percent, while the average for the EU was a 0.6 percent decrease.
The confidence indicator regarding Greece decreased in February in the consumer sector and registered a slight increase in share prices, the building sector and industry.
In statements, they underlined that the meeting concerned issues of mutual interest around the policies of employment and policies connected with the European Union.
"The conclusion of the agreement which we signed today reflects the will of both sides for cooperation on the basis of the Greek side's obligation, as a member of the European Union, to act in harmony with the legislation of the European Union and for the Slovenian side to secure a mutual cooperation in the prospect of Slovenia's accession to the European Union," Yiannitsis said.
On his part, the Slovenian labor minister noted that his country is in the process of EU accession in the coming years , while it views as very useful cooperation on issues of employment and insurance.
"The government is burdening Greeks of all income groups in order to fund its wasteful policy," said George Alogoskoufis, ND's economy spokesman.
Alogoskoufis was responding to statements earlier in the day by government spokesman Dimitris Reppas.
He concluded by saying, however, that steps had to be taken so that a family with two children would be able to buy a home costing 47 million drachmas without paying tax.
"From 1996, when the phased privatization of OTE began, charges per minute for local calls have risen by 250 percent, representing a sacrifice by the public for (the authorities) to find buyers for the firm more easily," the party said in a statement.
The National Telecom and Post Offices Commission earlier this week approved the changes sought by OTE.
The rate changes include a rise in the monthly telephone standing charge to 2,800 drachmas from 2,400 drachmas; an average 10 percent decline for international calls; and a drop to 28 drachmas per minute for long-distance calls from 40 drachmas.
Anomeritis reiterated the ministry's priorities in the framework of the 2004 Agenda which are developing agriculture, improving the competitiveness of Greek products and restructuring the Greek countryside.
On Friday, the general index ended 1.42 percent higher at 3,154.82 points, off the day's lows. The Athens bourse's decline had brought a flight to quality, which meant the capitalization of the top 15 large-cap firms represented 55 percent of the market, said the report, released on Friday.
Steriotis was addressing a seminar on the creation of internet sites by companies quoted on the Athens bourse held at the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
He again also sought the government's intervention in the question of losses incurred by quoted companies that invested in the ailing Athens Stock Exchange.
Arranged by the quoted firms trade group, the seminar covered promotion through advertising and stock exchange and commercial information through the internet.
New products would be launched on the domestic market in the wake of declining interest rates and Greece's membership of the euro zone since January 1, the statement said.
Now available are mobile phones and accessories, and small electronic goods from Germanos, the parent company; information technology and internet products from the Multirama chain of high street stores; flowers and plants from Studio 7; and jewelry from Pentheroudakis.
Elvip s.r.o. is a trade company focusing on materials used on seaming, mainly imported to Greece.
Mouzakis said in a letter sent to the Athens Stock Exchange the move was aimed to strengthen its position in the Czech market and to facilitate the company's expansion in eastern Europe's rapidly growth textiles market. The company announced continuous exports to north African states, particularly Tunisia and Morocco.
Consolidated turnover totaled 48.528 billion drachmas from 31.257 billion in 1999, up 55 percent, while net pre-tax profits soared 71 percent to 9.717 billion from 5.678 billion drachmas.
The results included figures from Intrasoft International SA, Data Bank SA, Oros Solutions SA, Galanis Sports Data SA, Inform Processing Services SA, Infosport SA, Dialogue SA, PC Consulting, Financial Technologies SA and Eurocom Expertise SA.
Intrasoft's 2000 strategy focuses on expanding its activities both in the domestic and foreign markets through the purchase of a 22.89 percent equity stake in PC Consulting, a US-based company, with an option to buy a 49 percent more.
It also purchased a 51 percent equity stake in Dialogue SA, 60 percent in Galanis Sports-Data and a 30 percent in Financial Technologies.
Intrasoft also owns a 40 percent equity stake in Flash Multimedia, a company founded in 2000.
The Greek company acquired a 10 percent equity stake in Hungarian company Fornax and a 20 percent stake in Turkish company Gantek Technologies. It also founded Intrasoft Jordan in Amman, Jordan.
In a letter to the bourse, the company said that a change of management in February signaled the start of the overhaul.
The bank was set up in March last year, with Panagopoulos, a former governor of the National Bank of Greece, at the helm.
Traders said a recovery in telecommunication stocks was the driving force behind a general rebound of the market. Analysts said that the market reaffirmed the 3,100-point level as a strong support level in the short-term.
The general index ended 1.42 percent higher at 3,154.82 points, off the day's lows, with turnover an improved 185.52 million euros, or 63.217 billion drachmas.
Hellenic Telecom's share price ended 2.28 percent higher after falling to an intra-day 52 week low of 14.64 euros. Panafon jumped 5.20 percent and Cosmote rose 2.98 percent.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 1.61 percent to 1,805.46 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index jumped 2.62 percent to 371.10 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks soared 5.19 percent to 333.67 points.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 314 to 34 with another 13 issues unchanged.
Hellenic Telecom, Nausea Spinning, Alpha Bank, Cosmote and Klonatex were the most heavily traded stocks.
The new Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.31 percent from 5.32 percent a day earlier.
The yield spread over German bunds was 59 basis points, the same as the session before.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totaled 1.060 billion euros (about 361.1 billion drachmas) from 730 million euros (around 248.7 billion drachmas) a day earlier. Sell orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 1.61 percent up, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 2.62 percent higher.
Turnover was 44.1 million euros on 7,990 contracts traded, the dealers said.
Ran said the Australian government should bring the issue for discussion at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which is to be held in October in the Australian city of Brisbane.
Speaking at a forum on the return of the Parthenon Marbles, held as part of Adelaide's "Hellenic Culture Month", Ran said that the return of the Marbles was not an issue between Greece and Australia, but "one that concerns the world cultural heritage".
"I believe, therefore, that the Australian government should bring the issue up for discussion at the summit meeting of Commonwealth leaders, among whom will be British prime minister Tony Blair and Cyprus president Glafcos Clerides," Ran said.
He said he had written a letter to Blair proposing that the Marbles be returned to Greece by 2004, when the Olympic Games will also return to the country where they were born.
"Besides, such a pledge had been made by British Labor Party former leader Neil Kinnock in 1980, when he correctly observed that the Parthenon without the Marbles is like a smile without teeth," Ran added.
The 5th century B.C. friezes were removed from the Parthenon by the British diplomat Lord Elgin with the permission of the local Ottoman occupation authorities in the early 19th century. Elgin removed the priceless statues and other parts of the Parthenon temple and later sold them to the British Museum in 1816, where they have been housed since.
Zotos and his company, United Events, slapped the "catwalk queen" with the lawsuit on her arrival in Australia for the Grand Prix.
According to the lawsuit, Campbell visited Melbourne last year at the invitation of Zotos' company to take part in five fashion shows.
Although she was paid in advance for all five appearances, Campbell suddenly left the country without completing the appearances.
Asked by local reporters in Melbourne to comment on the lawsuit, Campbell laughed and declined any comment.
The Cyprus police are efficient in combating the narcotics trade and assisted the international community in efforts against drug traffickers, according to the U.S. State Department International Narcotics Control Strategy Report made public late Thursday.
In the report's chapter on Cyprus, the State Department report opined that Cyprus' international collaboration in the fight against drug trafficking was limited due to the political division of the island republic between the internationally-recognized Republic of Cyprus in the south and the Turkish Cypriot pseudo-state in the north, resulting in the Cyprus Republic's police authorities not collaborating with the pseudo-state police.
The report said Cyprus had excellent collaboration with its neighboring countries and the United States, and acted speedily whenever asked.
One of the US's highest priorities in Cyprus is to avert money laundering, the report said, since Cyprus was listed in the top, or "primary" category of countries with extensive money laundering, adding, however, that as a major regional financial and tourism center, Cyprus was susceptible to such activities.
The report stressed that Cyprus had taken strong and specific steps to combat money laundering and monitor the activities of a large number of offshore companies, a significant proportion of which belonged to Russian concerns.
It said Cyprus' central bank must continue to check-up on the activities of the offshore companies, while the island's commercial banks should inform authorities of suspicious financial transactions.
Although the report on narcotics control and a similar report on human rights contain separate sections on the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides, they clarify that the US recognize only the Republic of Cyprus as the legitimate government of the island republic.
The report further said that production and use of narcotics remained at a low level in Cyprus but expressed concern for the future, noting that Cyprus' geographic position enabled traffickers to move drugs from the Middle East towards Europe.
Founded in 1961, the union coordinates the activities of Greek-German societies in Germany and carries out programs in collaboration with the Greek government.
Each year, it also awards prizes to people who have made a special contribution to promoting relations between Greece and Germany.
This year's prize will go to journalist Costas Tsatsaronis, a former correspondent for "Der Spiegel" and for the Greek radio broadcast "Deutsche Welle" in Greece, and currently the publisher of the German-language Athens paper "Athener Zeitung".
Among the speakers at the ceremony, which will take place at the Milheim Town Hall, will be National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos. Attending will be the Orthodox Metropolitan of Germany and Central Europe Exarch Avgustinos, the Greek Ambassador to Berlin Dimitrios Nezeritis and the German Ambassador to Athens Karl-Heinz Albert Kuhna, the Mayor of Milheim and others.
The title of the essay is: "In which areas and how do you think Greece and Japan could further develop their relations? How can you contribute to the development of Greek-Japanese relations?"
Candidates should be Greek citizens aged 18-32 and proficient in English.
The essay should be no longer than two or three A4 pages, typed, in either English or Japanese and should be submitted in three copies. The competitor's particulars should be attached on a separate page in front of the essay. This should also record how the competitor found out about the competition and the dates he or she would prefer to visit Japan.
A form for the competition must be obtained from the Educational Department of the Japanese Embassy at Vass. Sofias Avenue 64, 11528 Athens, Tel: 7245875, Fax: 725 3966. The deadline for entering is March 31, 2001
At that time Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos and Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos intervened and acquired several personal items of Callas.
The items, that include letters, photographs and clothing articles, will be on exhibit until Friday.
These include works by Alexis Akrithakis, Takis, Yiannis Moralis, Gaitis, Zoggolopoulos and others, dating from 1950 to the present day.
The exhibition will begin on Saturday and run until Tuesday, March 13.
The choice of Argolida to host the exhibition was not random, organizers said, but was a reference to the poem "King Asini" that won Seferis the Nobel prize in 1963, since the town of Asini is in Argolida.
Ministry officials said the ring illegally traded almost 800,000 bottles of liquor.
Three Cypriots, Rogeros Hadzikyprianou, Aggelos Theodoulou and Iakovos Nikolaou, headed the smuggling ring and they are currently wanted by police authorities. The three men founded Ena Emporiki SA and Cosmoemporiki SA in Piraeus and Thessaloniki, respectively, two wholesale liquor companies and begun supplying the domestic market with liquor without paying customs and other taxes using fake invoices.
The finance ministry said that tax and customs evasion from the operation amounted to one billion drachmas.
Its epicenter was estimated to be 500 kilometers southeast of Athens, in the open sea 80 kilometers southeast of the Rhodian town of Lindos.
Geology Prof. Efthymios Lekkas did not rule out a second, even stronger quake from the same epicenter, saying it was a well known fault with intense seismic activity.
He said the area was being monitored by seismologists and that several, smaller aftershocks had occurred there during the afternoon.
Rhodes town residents, which are on the west side of the island, were completely oblivious to the tremor, however, and no damages were reported.
The Athens observatory said the epicenter was at the sea region northeast of the city.
"This is a very positive statement and reflects the facts," government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said here on Friday, invited to comment on Holbrooke's remark that he deeply regrets that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has continued to refuse to make progress on the solution of the Cyprus problem.
Noting that Holbrooke, who served as US presidential emissary for Cyprus, seems to apportion blame where it is due, Papapetrou expressed the hope that his statement, which sends crystal clear messages, will be taken seriously into consideration by the new US administration, even though his assessment comes after leaving his UN post.
Holbrooke told Mega TV that "the primary blockage at this point lies with the leadership in northern Cyprus", in an indirect, albeit clear, reference to Denktash's refusal to attend a new round of UN-led talks.
Replying to questions, the spokesman disagreed with the view that Holbrooke in his remarks absolves Turkey of any responsibility in efforts to settle the Cyprus question.
"Holbrooke has repeatedly indicated that Turkey has a leading role to pay in the way the problem is being handled," Papapetrou added.
Holbrooke has visited Cyprus, Turkey and Greece on several occasions during his term in office as presidential emissary and said he remains very highly interested in the eastern Mediterranean region.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
The spokesman said the report indicates that the continuing occupation of part of Cyprus is, among other factors, a problem which hampers the fight against drugs.
"The Republic of Cyprus has adopted specific measures, has introduced very strict legislation to combat drug trafficking and money laundering and it is not conceivable to level unsubstantiated and general charges against Cyprus for money laundering when such charges are not backed by hard proof," the spokesman said of the US report.
Suspicions alone are not sufficient evidence to condemn Cyprus, he added.
The report said Cyprus has a "small but growing population of soft-core drug users" and noted that drug-related crime is still low by international standards but rising since the 1980s.
It refers to the political division of the island into the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish-occupied areas of the Republic, stating that international enforcement cooperation is limited somewhat as a result of this division.
On money laundering the report claims that Russian organized crime, fraud, burglary and theft are the major sources of illicit proceeds that are laundered in Cyprus.
Replying to questions, Papapetrou said that Cyprus is classified in the category of countries involved in money laundering, which includes the US, Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Australia, Canada and many other states.
Papapetrou said the reference to US recognition of the legal government of the Republic of Cyprus alone indicates that Washington points to the occupation of part of the Republic as one of the problems that obstructs Cyprus' efforts to combat drug trafficking.
He said the report notes that Cyprus has taken steps towards drug combating to the extent that drug barons avoid using the island as a transition station.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
The ambassador, who was speaking after a meeting with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, dismissed reports suggesting indirect recognition of the self-styled Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus, saying such reports are a misinterpretation of facts and fantasies.
Asked if there is any movement on the Cyprus issue, Bandler said "things always move on this problem, there is always work to be done behind the scenes". Noting that there is an electoral period here ahead of May's parliamentary elections, the Ambassador said despite this "we are still working behind the scenes all the time on the Cyprus problem and on other matters."
Invited to comment on a US State Department report on narcotics, which seems to suggest the Turkish Cypriot regime should be acknowledged, Bandler said he often reads reports to that effort, referring to "so-called recognition and acknowledgment".
These are fantasies of somebody's imagination, he said, adding that "they are usually misinterprets of the facts."
The Turkish Cypriots declared a UDI (unilateral declaration of independence) in the areas of Cyprus occupied by the Turkish army since 1974 but no state, except Turkey, recognizes this illegal regime.
The UN has described the UDI "legally invalid" and called on all states not to facilitate it in any way or recognize any other state in Cyprus except the Republic of Cyprus.
The Convention was signed on behalf of President Glafcos Clerides by the Republic's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Sotos Zakhaeos.
So far only two countries have actually ratified the convention, widely regarded to be a very important tool in the fight against terrorism.
The Republic's Permanent Representative to the European Union Ambassador Theofilos Theofilou signed the relevant documents Thursday as part of the European Cooperation in Scientific and Technical Research field (COST).
Lukashou will be in Cyprus at the invitation of his Cypriot counterpart Minister of Communications and Works Averof Neophytou.
On Tuesday Neophytou and Lukashou will sign the cooperation agreement.
The visiting Minister will have talks with permanent secretary of the Ministry Vassos Pyrgou and Ministry officials. Lukashou leaves Tuesday.