|Friday, 19 July 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-02-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>February 6, 2002
BUCHAREST, 06/02/2002 (ANA - D. Konstantakopoulos)Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday reiterated Athens’ long-standing support for Romania’s NATO and European Union prospects, emphasizing here that the large northwest Balkan country’s membership in both blocs would aid regional stability and growth.
Simitis’ comments in Bucharest followed high-level talks with Romanian leadership, including President Ion Iliescu and his counterpart Adrian Nastase, as the Greek prime minister arrived here for a one-day working visit aimed at advancing bilateral political and economic relations.
"We support Romania's efforts to participate in NATO and the European Union because this will assist in the stabilization and growth of the region," Simitis told reporters after his talks with Iliescu.
Both men also described bilateral relations as "exemplary".
Iliescu, in turn, welcomed Athens’ stance in favor of Romania's EU and NATO membership, while stressing the excellent level of relations between the two countries.
Apart from Romania's bids for EU and NATO membership and Greek-Romanian relations, the two leaders further discussed international affairs and Balkan issues.
Simitis briefed Iliescu on the outcome of his recent contacts with US President George Bush and the European Commission, while noting that the west believes Romania was on a steady course to achieving prescribed targets, but also that it should be aided in its efforts.
Simitis further pledged that Greece, which would hold the rotating EU presidency in the first half of 2003, would contribute to "more decisive steps" for the incorporation of Romania into the Euro-Atlantic 'family'.
The Greek premier also spoke over the need to strengthen cooperation between the two countries on regional issues, noting that "we must be the ones to give solutions in our region" and proposing the establishment of a more permanent, less lax cooperation in SE Europe that could also lead to the adoption of a common stance, on the part of the Balkan countries, at international organizations on issues regarding the region, such as the Stability Pact.
He described Greek-Romanian cooperation as "very satisfactory", particularly in the economic sector but also in other fields, such as the defense sector. He also expressed a hope that it would soon be possible to overcome the consequences of the past division that prevailed in the Balkans.
Talks with Nastase: Romania's NATO and EU prospects along with bilateral economic relations also dominated talks between Simitis and his Romanian counterpart Adrian Nastase.
Afterwards, the Greek premier announced an initiative by Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece to jointly promote Bucharest's participation at an upcoming alliance summit in Prague.
Additionally, Simitis stated that Romania should begin negotiations on all the chapters dealing with EU accession this year, while promising that a Greek EU presidency in the first half of 2003 will "significantly assist in the progress of negotiations".
On his part, Nastase praised what he called Greece's significant role in the Balkans and SE Europe, noting that the country's membership in the European Union can guide other would-be member-states. He also said Bucharest counts on Greece's backing for Romania's NATO accession.
Investment package: Meanwhile, in terms of bilateral relations, Simitis unveiled a Greek-Romanian investment package worth US$ 70 million - within the framework of a Balkan reconstruction plan - to follow the signature of a relevant agreement.
Along those lines, Simitis stressed the need for an even more in-depth and structured cooperation by SE European states that will eventually evolve into a regional organization.
Finally, in touching on another issue steadily creeping up the agenda of regional concerns, namely, illegal immigration, Nastase said the problem of Romanian nationals illegal entering Greece, for instance, can be dealt with through bilateral cooperation at the foreign and interior ministries' level.
Simitis is accompanied by alternate foreign minister Tassos Giannitsis and deputy minister Andreas Loverdos, who will meet with their Romanian counterparts.
Economic forum address: In a later address at the Greek-Romanian economic forum, Simitis said he considered Romania's performance last year as noteworthy in terms of creating a stable and transparent climate in the economy and in safeguarding the right of ownership.
The Greek premier mentioned that 70 percent of Romanian exports are funneled into the European Union, something he said translates into a steady transformation of the current institutional framework in the country into the Union's acquis communautaire.
In terms of bilateral trade, Simitis said the figure hasn't as yet reached a desired level, whereas he pointed to a goal of one billion dollars annually in Greek-Romanian trade as attainable. Moreover, he added that some 1,000 Greek firms active in the country have created around 70,000 new jobs.
Finally, in referring to the successful euro changeover in 12 out of 15 EU member-states, Simitis cited a common target:
"EU countries, as well as candidate-states, such as Romania, must adapt to the new realities shaped by international conditions, as well as by the abilities now opening thanks to the circulation of the common European currency. And this is the responsibility for both sides - both for governments and businesses," he said.
 Protopapas comments on Greek-Turkish affairs
Athens, 06/02/2002 (ANA)Government spokesman Christos Protopapas admitted on Tuesday that the number of violations and infringements of Greek territorial space by Turkey had increased lately, but said that the government would not allow its attention to be diverted from what it saw as the main issues in Greek-Turkish relations.
According to the spokesman, these were the talks between Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash over the Cyprus problem, Cyprus accession to the European Union and dialogue with Turkey to explore the possibilities of drawing up a draft agreement on the issue of the continental shelf.
 DM discusses airspace violations with Turkish counterpart
Athens, 06/02/2002 (ANA)Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou had a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart on violations of Greek national airspace by Turkish aircraft, which have in-creased in number recently, as conceded by the government.
Government spokesman Christos Protopapas reiterated that the government has its interest focused steadfastly on three issues: talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on the Cyprus issue, Cyprus's accession to the European Union and the exploratory effort at dialogue with Turkey regarding the continental shelf.
 ND leader meets with Scottish counterpart, discusses Balkans, Cyprus issue
EDINBURGH, 06/02/2002 (ANA - A. Panago-poulos)Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday met with Scottish Conservative Party leader and former British foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkin.
According to sources, the two men discussed developments in the Balkans and the Cyprus issue since Rifkin - who served as the European Union's special envoy in Kosovo and dealt with the Cyprus issue from the post of secretary of foreign affairs - asked Karamanlis to brief him on both issues.
Karamanlis spoke of the need for stability in the Balkans without any border changes and stressed strongly that Cyprus' accession to the EU would enhance stability in the southeastern Mediterranean.
As for Cyprus, he said "we aim at the resolution of the political problem of Cyprus, but it is not in any case a precondition for Cyprus' accession to the European Union and the possibility of Cyprus not being in the first wave of entry to the EU is unthinkable".
Later in the day, Karamanlis spoke at the University of Edinburgh on the democratization of the western Balkans in the framework of the European Peoples' Party initiative, which he heads.
During his address, Karamanlis spoke of the need for changes in the Copenhagen criteria for accession to the EU and noted that the list of candidate member-states is growing longer with countries that are very different from each other and face highly differentiated problems.
He stressed that the "external attitude of candidate member-states, should be a basic criterion in the decisions we will make regarding the next enlargement".
Karamanlis also spoke of the Balkans and the EU's policy there, stressing that the issue of strengthening regional cooperation was dealt with hardly at all by the region's Stability Pact.
 Protopapas: Gov't proposals for media sector negotiable
Athens, 06/02/2002 (ANA)The only non-negotiable point in the government's proposals for the broadcasting sector was that of banning the simultaneous ownership of a media enterprise and a company having transactions with the public sector, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Tuesday.
"All our other ideas can be examined and discussed with the relevant bodies," he added.
Asked whether the government's proposals for modernizing the sector might be withdrawn altogether following the reactions against them, he pointed out that the reactions were not all identical and that all new things had a difficult start.
On Monday, Protopapas had announced that the press and media ministry was working on a series of proposals for a new code of conduct for news broadcasts.
"One has to break eggs to make an omelet," he added, "For those who say that our proposals threaten democracy, I would like to remind them that democracy was threatened by the immoral attack against the President of the Republic."
Last week, a report by 'Extra' television channel revealed that President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos was the owner of rented premises being used to operate illegal video slot machines. The president has since denied all knowledge of the activities of the tenants, saying that the entire lease agreement had been handled by third parties.
The report triggered a political crisis and initially led to speculation that the president might resign, though this was quickly squashed by the unanimous support and faith in Stephanopoulos' integrity expressed by all the political parties.
ND slams 'state of anarchy' in media sector: The main opposition on Tuesday condemned what they called a "state of unequaled anarchy" in the electronic media, and attributed this to weaknesses in the regulatory framework governing the sector, particularly as regards the Constitution.
In a question tabled in Parliament for Prime Minister Costas Simitis, New Democracy MPs Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Dimitris Sioufas said the current state of affairs in the media "exercises a particularly dangerous negative influence on the quality of our democracy," and particularly stressed the smear attack against the President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos last week.
They blamed an inactive and inadequate Constitutional framework, whose 'Achilles heel' was the precise meaning of the term 'main shareholder'. According to Sioufas and Pavlopoulos, this last was a backdoor "that let in, shielded under a constitutional mantle, lack of transparency and vested interests," especially in the sensitive electronic media sector.
The MPs also pointed out that no final licenses had been given to electronic media in the past 12 years, and criticized the government for delaying to bring laws executing the provisions of the Constitution to Parliament by the end of 2001.
Earlier on Tuesday, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said that instituting the 'main shareholder' measure, whereby media owners were banned for simultaneous ownership of companies having transactions with the public sector, was a reform that the government did not consider negotiable.
 GSEE stands by ESHEA in Thursday's strike, N. Greece journalists join the strike
Athens, 06/02/2002 (ANA)The General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) on Tuesday expressed its solidarity to the Athens Journalists' Union (ESHEA), for its strike action planned for Thursday.
GSEE noted in its statement that it stands by ESHEA in support of a satisfactory collective agreement for journalists and the resolution of problems related to employee-employer conditions.
In a related development, the Macedonia-Thrace Journalists' Union (ESHEM-TH) called on its members to strike on Thursday, in defense of journalists' dignity and in defense of the respect for journalism ethics.
 Parliament ratifies draft law on chemical weapons
Athens, 06/02/2002 (ANA)A Parliament plenum unanimously ratified a draft law on Tuesday on the implementation of an agreement banning the development, production, storage and use of chemical weapons and their destruction, by which Greece will take necessary measures to implement the agreement signed in Paris on January 13, 1993 and ratified by law 2254 in 1994.
Deputies of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left and Progress voted against article 1 in the bill, saying passage D in paragraph 12 was unacceptable and dangerous as it anticipates the use of chemical weapons "for purposes of preserving public order."
On its part, the main opposition New Democracy party accused the government of delay in ratifying the bill. It also proposed the participation of a representative of the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Ministry in the national chemical weapons authority, anticipated by the bill for coordinating the activities of services.
Referring to the same issue, ruling PASOK party Deputy L. Grigorakos proposed the inclusion of a health ministry representative, a doctor specialized in chemical warfare.
 MEP calls for Europarliament support for Olympic Truce
Athens, 06/02/2002 (ANA)Ruling PASOK Euro parliamentarian Anna Karamanou has called on the European Parliament to back the Olympic Truce movement which has commenced on the initiative of Greece's foreign minister George Papandreou, it was made known in Athens on Tuesday.
Karamanou, speaking to a Europarliament plenary before the commencement of the session proper, called on Europarliament president Pat Cox to send a letter to IOC president Jacques Rogge and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan affirming the Europarliament's support for the Olympic Truce movement, stressing that the values expressed in the truce idea were in complete identity with the values that have repeatedly been proclaimed by the European Parliament.
Karamanou further noted that the XIX Winter Olympics opening on Friday in Salt Lake City should comprise the beginning of the revival of the Ancient Greek tradition of cessation of all hostilities for the duration of the Olympic Games, thus sending out the message that sports was not only a spectacle, but also the best way to promote world peace, friendship, understanding, solidarity and peaceful coexistence among peoples and cultures.
 ND representatives at future of Europe convention
Athens, 06/02/2002 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy will appoint Athens MP Marietta Yiannakou as its Parliamentary representative at a convention dealing with institutional reforms in the European Union. The party's alternate member will be Rodopi MP Evripides Stylianidis.
 Florakis: Attack on president an attempt to divert public's attention
Athens, 06/02/2002 (ANA)Veteran politician Harilaos Florakis, the one-time leader of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and its honorary president, on Tuesday called last week's media attack-turned-furor involving attempts to discredit President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos as an part of a "disorientation campaign".
In response to press questions, the octogenarian Florakis added that the public opinion's attention, as a result, was shifted from farmers' protests throughout Greece, as well as problems in education and health.
Finally, Florakis said "those who have an interest in disorienting the Greek people from their problems" conceived the entire smear campaign against Stephanopoulos.
 PASOK secretary visits Greek Industries Federation
Athens, 06/02/2002 (ANA)PASOK Central Committee secretary Costas Laliotis said on Tuesday growth is the response to the challenge of the era, adding that it should be viable and balanced and be linked to employment and the competitiveness of enterprises, combined with investments and jobs.
Laliotis was speaking after meeting the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) in the framework of contacts he has scheduled with professional organizations and institutional agencies.
Laliotis intends to have frequent contacts with social partners as part of a continuous social dialogue and promised that meetings, such as the one on Tuesday, will take place at least three times a year.
SEB President Lefteris Antonakopoulos, referring to Laliotis' visit, said the opportunity was provided for an exchange of views related to the economy and growth, such as the social security issue, tax reform, structural changes and a host of other issues, for useful information to be obtained to enable solutions to be found.
 Coalition leader on official visit to Cyprus
NICOSIA, 06/02/2002 (ANA - G. Leonidas)Greece's Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos is currently on an official visit to Cyprus for talks with the political leadership.
Constantopoulos, who is due to meet on Wednesday with President of the Republic Glafcos Clerides, held talks on Tuesday with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias, Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus and political party representatives.
Parliament President and leftwing AKEL party Secretary General Christofias stated that the positions of the Republic of Cyprus and that of Synaspismos for a settlement of the Cyprus problem are identical.
On his part, Constantopoulos stressed that the interest of his party for Cyprus was steadfast, sincere and was always shown in practice.
During their meeting, Christofias briefed Constantopoulos on current developments in the Cyprus issue and on Cyprus' EU accession course. The two men also exchanged views on the Aegean and Greek-Turkish relations.
Cyprus FM meets Greece's Coalition leader: Greece's Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos met here on Tuesday with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides and exchanged views on developments in the direct talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, Cyprus' EU accession course and the Greek-Turkish dialogue.
Following their talks, Constantopoulos said that Cyprus should join the EU as a unified state, "without obstacles, prerequisites and last minute dilemmas." He noted that Cyprus "fulfills all the prerequisites so that it be in the EU enlargement, without any obstacle."
On his part, Kasoulides said that the Greek politician's visit to the island republic at this moment of time was "indicative of his interest and love for Cyprus."
 ELDR grouping leader Hoyer in Athens
Athens, 06/02/2002 (ANA)European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party (ELDR) leader Werner Hoyer arrived in Athens this week, where on Tuesday he met for a working lunch with Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos.
Former New Democracy minister Andreas Andrianopoulos also joined Hoyer and Avramopoulos, who last year founded his own political party, the Movement of Free Citizens (KEP).
 Greek Church concurs with Mosque construction in Athens, disagrees with site
Athens, 06/02/2002 (ANA)The Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece concurs with the construction of an Mosque in the wider Athens region, but disagrees with the present plans to build it near the new Athens airport in Spata, east of Athens.
Church spokesman Metropolitan of Alexandoupoli Anthimos on Wednesday said that he recently met with the Lybian ambassador in Athens and briefed the members of the church's Holy Synod, governing body on the issue.
The Holy Synod, during its meeting on the same day, decided that the intra-religious meeting the Church of Greece is organizing will take place during the first third of September, while the decision expressly called for the invitation of a representative of the Roman Catholic Church.
 Greece sells 250-million-euro notes, yields rise
Athens, 06/02/2002 (ANA)The Organization of Public Debt Management on Tuesday successfully auctioned three new short-term state securities issues, worth 250 million euros, through the market's primary dealers.
The organization auctioned a 26-week treasury note, worth 75 million euros. The average weighed interest rates rose to 3.1 percent from 2.99 percent in the previous auction, while bids submitted were two times more than the asked sum.
A 13-week note, worth 75 million euros, saw its average weighed interest rate rising to 3.05 percent from 2.95 percent. The issue was 1.6 times oversubscribed.
Finally, a 52-week note, worth 100 million euros, was 2.1 times oversubscribed with the average weighed interest rates rising to 3.2 percent from 3.02 percent in the previous auction.
 Farmers block Athens-Thessaloniki highway protesting subsidy reductions
Athens, 06/02/2002 (ANA)Farmers blocked the Athens-Thessaloniki motorway in the Tempi valley, central Greece, on Tuesday in protest at government policies regarding subsidies and compensation for damage caused to their products during the inclement weather in December and January.
They were planning to block the highway for a little more than an hour, beginning a few minutes after 6 p.m., as talks between their representatives and the agricultural ministry's civil leadership failed to reach an agreement on these issues.
According to reports, representatives of local farmers' unions will meet on Wednesday to take final decisions on their future course of action.
 State holding firm to be created for industrial zones, parks
Athens, 06/02/2002 (ANA)Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Tuesday that a company for ownership of the country's industrial zones and parks would be set up by the state and the Hellenic Industrial Development Bank, in which the state would retain a majority holding.
Twelve new industrial zones and parks were created in 1996-2001, Tsohatzopoulos told a news conference.
 Hellenic Petroleum set for strategic investor end-April
Athens, 06/02/2002 (ANA)The choice of a strategic investor for Hellenic Petroleum, a heavily traded stock on the Athens bourse, will be made at the end of April, the National Investment Bank for Industrial Development (ETEVA) said on Tuesday.
Companies interested in the alliance and a 23 percent stake in state-owned Hellenic would be invited to send binding offers on March 8, said ETEVA, one of the government's consultants in the sale.
Non-binding offers submitted in the tender were from the OMV oil and natural gas group of Austria; Lukoil of Russia with the Latsis oil, banking and shipping group; and Yukos of Russia.
The government’s other tender consultants are National Bank of Greece and UBS Warburg.
 Greek table olive exporters warn of sector risks
Athens, 06/02/2002 (ANA)Greek Olive Manufacturers-Exporters on Tuesday expressed their serious concerns over the future of the table olive industry in the country in the wake of a recent surge in prices.
Board members of the Panhellenic Union of Manufacturers-Packagers-Exporters of Table Olives, said that current prices were more than double from their last year's levels and above their historic highs.
The union accused, without naming, certain farm cooperative unions for speculative behavior that was damaging the sector.
Union chairman, Dianelos Georgoudis, warned that the sector was facing the loss of traditional exporting markets because of this fact.
Georgoudis said that prices should reflect the real cost and a reasonable fluctuation in cases of reduced crop.
The union has asked Agriculture Deputy Minister Vaggelis Argyris, to intervene in order to protect the sector from speculative moves.
Argyris said the this year's crop was 50 percent lower from 2001 (10-11,000 tones from 20,000 tones, respectively), because of a draught in the period September-October and freezing conditions in December.
 Greek stocks end 0.99 percent down
Athens, 06/02/2002 (ANA)Equity prices ended Tuesday's session lower on the Athens Stock Exchange following a similar trend in international markets.
The general index fell 0.99 percent to 2,563.22 points, with turnover a low Dr 34.9 billion, or 102.4 million euros.
The Insurance, Holding and Construction sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (1.69 percent, 1.64 percent and 1.51 percent, respectively) while the Textile and Cement sectors scored gains (0.26 percent and 0.24 percent).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 1.19 percent lower, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 1.08 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index fell 0.56 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 249 to 78 with another 36 issues unchanged.
The most heavily traded shares were Agrinio Metals and Plastics, Klonatex (common), Public Power Corporation, Naoussa Textiles, Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, and Giannousis.
Bond Market Close: Prices mixed in brisk trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Tuesday finished mixed in heavy trade focusing on ten-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.20 percent, and the spread over German bunds was 38 basis points.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 2.4 billion euros.
Buy orders accounted for the lion's share of turnover.
Derivatives Market Close: Equity futures edge down: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange ended slightly lower on Tuesday in lackluster trade, tracking the main market.
Changing hands were 5,583 contracts on turnover of 33.5 million euros.
The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips shed 1.19 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks lost 1.08 percent.
 ELKE presents program to attract foreign investments
Athens, 06/02/2002 (ANA)Hellenic Investment Center (ELKE) on Tuesday presented its new international program to attract foreign investors, called "Greece: A Winner's Choice", ahead of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
The program aims to develop ambitious initiatives and projects in cooperation between public and private agencies that will highlight the country's competitive advantages in the period 2002-2003, climaxing in 2004 when the international business community will turn its focus in Greece.
The promotion of the program and initiatives will be made through a series of international events before and during the 2004 Olympic Games.
The first and more significant initiative of the program is Athens Business Club, an international contacts club, aiming to attract 25,000 members from the international business community by 2004. Australia's relative club had 18,000 members.
The Athens Business Club is expected to launch its site (www.athensbusinessclub.gr) offering a wide range of information on business opportunities in the country and communication opportunities between Greek and foreign companies.
The first presentation of Athens Business Club and of the program will be made during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics 2002, by ELKE's chairman Kostas Bakouris. ELKE has already started presentations to Greek businessmen.
Panayiotis Lagos, director of "Greece: A Winner's Choice", said ELKE has not yet determined the cost of the program, although he noted that it could be around the 1.5 million dollars that was the cost of the Australian project.
ELKE's general manager, H. Esaias, said the tourism, bio-farming, energy and high technology sectors were most likely to benefit more from the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
Esaias said investments made in Greece, under the recommendations of ELKE, totalled 90 billion drachmas, with energy accounting for 25 percent, followed by the food and textiles sectors.
 ATHOC briefs IOC delegates in Salt Lake City over progressSALT LAKE CITY, 06/02/2002 (ANA)
The Athens 2004 organizing committee's (ATHOC) leader-ship on Monday briefed the International Olympics Committee (IOC) over preparations and progress for the upcoming summer Games.
The briefing, coming amid the IOC's 113th congress in the Utah metropolis, comes a few days before the 2002 Winter Games begin.
In addressing the IOC delegates, ATHOC head Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki emphasized that "significant progress" for the 2004 Games has been achieved, while she noted that "the deadlines remaining are particularly tight, that's why not even one day can be lost."
According to ATHOC, the IOC members were briefed in detail over all the 2004-related projects, including the Olympic Village, as well as the all-important issue of transports, which took place on Saturday.
Security was also high on the agenda, with ATHOC officials reiterating that US$ 600 million will be spent on in this sector, whereas 37 bilateral and multilateral agreements have been signed, including with Interpol.
In closing her address, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki noted that ATHOC's officials arrived in Salt Lake City to acquire "new knowledge and experience".
ATHOC president gives press conference on Olympiad: Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, in a satellite press conference given in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, said hard and intensive work should be continued to organize successful Olympic Games in Athens in 2004.
Daskalaki also referred to the Greek presence in Utah. The Greek police delegation, defense ministry officials and the Organizing Committee's delegation will convey expertise and know-how from the Winter Olympic Games, due to begin in Salt Lake City in a few days time.
She said measures are being taken for security and planning exists but they will not be announced, adding that she was impressed by draconian measures in Salt Lake City where, as she said, the presence of the military is very evident.
Daskalaki also referred to the great importance of volunteerism and the Olympic Truce, saying that for the first time in Olympic Games the Olympic flame will pass through all five continents.
 New York Times editorial calls for the return of the Parthenon Marbles
NEW YORK, 06/02/2002 (ANA)The New York Times published on Saturday an editorial in support of the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece providing a short but concise history of the way the Parthenon Sculptures found their way to England and then to the British Museum.
"Most of the arguments used to justify British possession of the Parthenon Marbles have long since eroded, if they were ever true. The British originally vowed to give them 'an honorable shelter' and keep them 'safe from ignorance and degradation.'
Those are terms of the cultural imperialism that sounded plausible in 1816," the paper wrote.
"But no one now argues that the Greeks are incapable of protecting their own artistic treasures ... Greece has most modestly asked to borrow the Parthenon marbles for the 2004 Athens Olympics, with almost prostrate guarantees of their safe return," it added.
"Instead of lending them, the British Museum should find, in Parliament, the legal authority to return them outright. Museums around the world fear establishing a precedent that would cause a broad new look at the legal status of their own antiquities. But that look has already begun," the New York Times concluded.
 49th Acropolis Rally scheduled for June 13
Athens, 06/02/2002 (ANA)The 49th Acropolis Rally will begin early on Thursday, June 13 from Delphi instead of the Athens Acropolis, changing venue after almost half a century's tradition.
This year's Acropolis Rally will be the 7th of the international championship and its course will be 1,225 kilometers in length, which will include 390 kilometers of special circuits.
The headquarters will be located in Itea, central Greece as they have been in the past, but there will be only on service park, located in Lilea, central Greece, which will be the starting point of each day's race section.
 Spokesman: Clerides and Denktash continue talks on security
NICOSIA, 06/02/2002 (CNA/ ANA)The issue of security will take up most of the time of Wednesday's meeting between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou told his briefing on Tuesday, adding that direct talks between the leaders of the two communities continue intensively.
Papapetrou said there would be additional meetings, to those already scheduled, between the two leaders, in order to speed up the process of the talks and cover all chapters under discussion before a break for the Ramadan holiday (February 21-25). He added that during this period the UN Secretary General's Special Advisor on the Cyprus problem Alvaro De Soto may fly to New York.
Answering a question, the spokesman said that the two sides negotiate on all issues and added that at a later stage these negotiations will get into a more substantive phase.
Papapetrou reiterated that June has been set as a deadline for this round of talks and noted that by then it will be clear whether an a framework for agreement can be reached.
"If things move on during this stage, then it will be a crucial period, a time of serious negotiations," he said.
Invited to comment on reports that the Turkish troops occupying Cyprus northern part are being reinforced, at the same time when negotiations aiming at the solution of the Cyprus problem are being held, the spokesman said such moves do not contribute neither to the substance of the negotiations nor to the good climate that is necessary for the talks.
 Defense minister says Turks do not convince that they want a solution
NICOSIA, 06/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)The reinforcement of the Turkish occupation troops sends out a very serious message on the course of the direct talks held between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, Defense Minister Socratis Hasikos said here on Tuesday.
Commenting on reports that Turkey is shipping arms to Cyprus' occupied north, Hasikos said that such acts do not convince of Turkey's expressed intention to proceed with a solution to the Cyprus problem.
He also noted that the Republic of Cyprus would continue to upgrade its military defense armaments noting that "we are obliged to do so as long as the dialogue (on the Cyprus question) does not bear fruit."
He also recalled statements made recently by a Turkish army leader on an illegal visit to the Turkish occupied areas said that should Cyprus join the European Union prior to a solution of its political problem, the Turkish army would react.
Hasikos noted that "the threat has not been altered at all, on the contrary, it is heightened" especially after this statement by the Turkish army leader.
 Fitch Report on Cyprus economy
NICOSIA, 06/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)Fitch Ratings, an international economy evaluating firm, has announced that it has assigned an "A+" to the economy of Cyprus, stating that the Republic of Cyprus exceeds all other European Union candidate countries.
According to an official announcement, in its evaluation Fitch ascertains that Cyprus will be ready to face the challenge of entering the European Union, expected to take place in 2004 or 2005.
Both the rating and the comments in the Fitch report are judged as very satisfactory for the Cyprus economy.
Representatives of Fitch ratings, who visited Cyprus at the end of last year, rate as positive the solvency of Cyprus as regards long- term and short-term borrowing in foreign currency, while the prospects of its economy are considered steady.
As stated in the announcement, reference to the high standard of per capita income and the dynamism of the market is judged as extremely positive.
"The institutional and legal infrastructure necessary for the effective enforcement of private property rights, as well as a track record of low inflation and the exchange rate stability of the Cyprus pound are elements reinforcing the economic situation of Cyprus", states the Fitch report.
It also describes as satisfactory the economic indices and says they are in the right direction converging with those of the EU countries.
The report also comments favorably on the government program for fiscal consolidation.
The Fitch report points out certain weaknesses which however do not constitute a danger to the macroeconomic stability of the economy.
These relate to the deficit in the balance of current account and the fact that the economy of Cyprus is relatively vulnerable to external shocks and crises of the world economy.