|Sunday, 15 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-02-07
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Gov't meeting decides to get tough on corruption
Athens, 07/02/2002 (ANA)The government was determined to take additional measures to combat corruption, deputy press minister Telemachos Chytiris said on Wednesday as he emerged from a meeting on the issue chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
Four of the ministers attending, Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou and Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis, were given the task of translating the policy directions decided at the meeting into specific measures and policies, he added.
Chytiris said the two-hour meeting had identified the main sources of corruption as being financial and economic crime and transactions between the civil service and the public, while it had determined to step up measures to counteract this.
Asked to name specific examples, he mentioned cases of smuggling contraband cigarettes or fuel, or the multiple reports of corruption in town planning services or vehicle road safety test centers (KTEO).
In particular, the meeting had decided to monitor on a daily basis the implementation of any measures decided on and had discussed ways of improving coordination and efficiency of existing control mechanisms within the civil service.
Another decision was that to reinforce and strengthen the agencies responsible for prosecuting and stamping out corruption, Chytiris said.
Regarding the issue of illegal gambling and the notorious video-slot 'fruit machines' that recently hit the headlines, Chytiris said the ministers had decided this would be dealt through by stricter control mechanisms, a strict restriction of the number of businesses allowed to operate such games and tougher penalties, including permanent closure, for businesses that flouted the law.
He did not rule out the possibility that 'fruit' machines might be banned altogether, and said that everything would be decided by the four ministers responsible for working out the specifics of the measures decided. If necessary, he added, the laws might be changed.
Corruption in public sector transactions, on the other hand, would be dealt with by making the processes involved transparent and shorter, as well as more objective.
 ND leader outlines Athens' rejection of 'Euro-force' formula
LONDON, 07/02/2002 (ANA - A. Panagopoulos)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis emphasized here after talks with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw that "it's impossible to consider" one EU member-state on an even par with a non-EU member, a direct reference to a controversial British-Turkish "formula" over the bloc's envisioned "Euro-Army". The ND leader added that "Greek citizens have the right to feel as secure as all other European citizens."
Furthermore, Karamanlis stressed to the British side that all of Greece's political parties agree on the point of rejecting the British formula to overcome Ankara's objections vis-a-vis the "Euro-Army's"- threatening to veto projected NATO cooperation with the new defense body.
Cyprus: Touching on the long-standing Cyprus issue, Karamanlis reiterated Athens' standing position that EU expansion without the island republic in the next wave of acceding states is unthinkable.
He also stressed that Cyprus' unhindered EU accession must be guaranteed with or without a solution to the island's political problem.
According to reports, Straw appeared optimistic over the prospects for a solution, and following the recently rekindled Clerides-Denktash talks.
The ND leader returns to Athens on Wednesday evening.
 Alternate FM to attend informal EU meeting in Spain
Athens, 07/02/2002 (ANA)Alternate Foreign Minister Tasos Giannitsis departs on Thursday for Caceres, Spain, where he will participate at an informal EU Council of Foreign Ministers meeting the following day.
The agenda of the talks will include the western Balkans, the common financing framework for 2004-2006 and the peace process in the Middle East.
 Athens to promote 'Olympic Truce' idea with Israel, Palestinians
Athens, 07/02/2002 (ANA)The Greek government and the country's presidency will dispatch letters to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority this week promoting the idea of an "Olympic Truce" throughout the holding of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres will be personally handed two letters, one by Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos and the other by his Greek counterpart, George Papandreou, on Friday.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will be handed the "Olympic Truce" letters on Saturday by the two visiting Greek officials, foreign ministry general secretary for expatriate Hellenism Dimitris Dollis and Euro-MP Anna Karamanou.
 Nationwide media strikeAthens, 07/02/2002
The Panhellenic Federation of Journalists Unions (POESY) has called a 24-hour nationwide strike in all the mass media in Greece beginning at 6:00 a.m. Thursday and running through 6:00 a.m. Friday.
The ANA news services will resume normally as of 6:00 a.m. Friday.
ESHEA president outlines goals of Thursday's strike: The media were in a state crisis and the 24-hour strike called by the Athens journalists union ESHEA aimed at initiating dialogue for dealing with the sector's problems, ESHEA president Aristides Manolakos said during a press conference on Wednesday.
He blamed these on the unhealthy interdependence of political and financial power centers, while he blamed low standards on employers who denied staff a sense of security and a dignified living.
Manolakos said that Thursday's strike condemned violations of collective agreements, asked for the implementation of a five-day week and other measures.
The ESHEA president also attributed some of the corruption in the sector to certain journalists that enjoyed large salaries and big contracts, presenting an image that was far from reality and the low salaries that often forced journalists to hold down two or even three jobs at a time.
Other journalists, he continued, had completely overstepped the boundaries of journalism and he urged them to turn in their union badges within 10 days.
With regard to the dialogue sought by ESHEA, Manolakos said it would center on four points:
Regulation of the ownership status of media enterprises; ensuring that newspapers and magazines operated according to the rules of free competition and were not organs of the political system or used in blackmail and a revision of the Venizelos laws on compensation, slander etc; the journalists code of practice, which ESHEA believes to be a matter for journalists and their employers, with the government's role confined to setting up bodies that monitor its observance; and finally issues related to the education and training of journalists.
Protopapas: no press briefing during ESHEA strike on Thursday: The regular press briefing will not take place on Thursday, out of respect for a strike called by the Athens union of journalists ESHEA, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said.
Protopapas, who also heads the press and media ministry told reporters on Wednesday that he had asked ESHEA president Aristides Manolakos for a meeting with the union and top ministry echelons to discuss a bill on media ownership and proposals for a code of practice for journalists put forward by the National Radio and Television Council (ERS).
"Mr. Manolakos briefed me on the initiatives to be undertaken by ESHEA on this issue and we welcome this event, believing that it will contribute to the self-regulation of the media," Protopapas said.
In response to questions about the new code of practice, the spokesman noted that the existing code had originally been drafted in the late 80s when only the state television channel was in operation and had been subsequently added to over the years.
"It is now judged useful to update and modernize this," the spokesman added, saying that the ERS would again be responsible for ensuring its observance, while the ERS itself would be appointed by Parliament with a weighted majority.
Protopapas underlined that the last proposal had not been suggested by the government but by the ERS itself, which had pointed out the need for instituting strong guarantees in order to deal with the imperfect self-regulatory processes in the media.
The spokesman further explained that the changes would not affect the print media, which belonged to private individuals. The airwaves, however, were a public commodity, whose use was assigned by the government.
For this reason there should be an independent authority that would monitor this process and monitor the observance of the code of practice.
These changes aim at improving the quality of news reporting," Protopapas concluded.
Newspaper owners union says journalists strike unjustified: The Union of Athens Daily Newspaper Owners (EIHEA), in an announcement on Wednesday, said the 24-hour strike called by the Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) on Thursday is unjustified.
EIHEA said its General Assembly had convened on Tuesday to focus on the issue of appointing representatives to negotiate the annual collective agreement.
 PM meets with PASOK deputies from the Peloponnese
Athens, 07/02/2002 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Wednesday met with a group of ruling PASOK deputies representing prefectures in the Peloponnese, part of the government's and party's preparations ahead of local government elections in October. Major state-funded projects in the region were discussed.
 Athens condemns latest transfer of weaponry to occupied Cyprus
Athens, 07/02/2002 (ANA)The Greek government on Wednesday vehemently condemned the latest illegal transfer of weaponry to the occupied parts of Cyprus by the Turkish military, stressing that the move obviously increases tensions on the divided island.
"Intransigence is not a good counsel," the government spokesman said in Athens, while noting that similar moves should be avoided at all costs.
 Alexandros 2002 annual map exercise begins Friday
Athens, 07/02/2002 (ANA)The armed forces' annual tactical large-scale map exercise code-named "Alexandros 2002" will be held February 8-12, the National Defense General Staff (GEETHA) announced Wednesday.
The purpose of the exercise is to train the armed forces and security forces on handling crisis situations and in the coordination of operations.
The General Staffs of the Army, Navy and Air Force, formations of the three branches of the Armed Forces, and political agencies will be taking part in the exercise, which is designed to evaluate crisis-handling and train the armed and security forces and political agency staffs in carrying out joint coordinated operations.
The exercise will be under the command of National Defense General Staff Chief General Manoussos Paragioudakis, and is taking place in conjunction with the Olympos 2002 map exercise conducted by the Cyprus National Guard General Staff.
 President receives outgoing general staff chief
Athens, 07/02/2002 (ANA)President Kostis Stephanopoulos received outgoing National Defense General Staff Chief Manoussos Paragioudakis on a farewell meeting on Wednesday, following his withdrawal from the military's leadership after a three-year period of office.
The 90-minute meeting focused on a briefing of President Kostis Stephanopoulos on defense issues, primarily issues concerning NATO, the European army, the Cyprus issue and the defense strategic review.
President Stephanopoulos praised the role of the National Defense General Staff chief, and of the armed forces in general, saying that it is not by chance that the armed forces come first in opinion polls regarding the Greek people's degree of confidence.
Paragioudakis will be handing over his duties to his successor George Antonakopoulos on February 15.
 U.S. Ambassador Miller to begin tour of Thrace on Friday
Athens, 07/02/2002 (ANA)US Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller begins a two-day visit to Thrace on Friday.
The first stop in his tour will be Xanthi, while on Saturday he will be visiting Komotini where he will have contacts with local officials.
According to sources, Miller will be accompanied by a group of American businessmen who are interested in investing in the region. The Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the U.S. Consulate in Thessaloniki coordinates the visit. Former U.S. ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns had also visited the region of Thrace eleven months ago.
 Greece's Coalition leader meets President Clerides, political party leaders
NICOSIA, 07/02/2002 (ANA - G. Leonidas)President of the Republic Glafcos Clerides on Wednesday morning received Greece's Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos. No comments were made after the meeting.
Later Constantopoulos held separate meetings with Social Democratic Movement (KISOS) president Yiannakis Omirou and Democratic Party (DIKO) president Tasos Papadopoulos.
Following his meeting with Papadopoulos, Constantopoulos said that the Cyprus issue was so difficult and so complex that there was no room for complacency.
Papadopoulos did not conceal his concern on the stance, which the Turkish side is continuing to maintain on the Cyprus issue. He referred to statements by Turkish officials and said that these statements only cause concern as they ascertain the known and unacceptable positions on the Cyprus issue.
The Greek politician also met in Nicosia with two Turkish Cypriot politicians who said Greece and Turkey can and should encourage the efforts for a solution of the Cyprus problem, at this critical period.
Mehmet Ali Talat, leader of the Republican Turkish Party, and Izzet Izcan, General Secretary of the Patriotic Unity Movement, were speaking after separate meetings they had at the UN-controlled Ledra Palace Hotel with Constantopoulos.
Speaking at a press conference at a hall of the Cyprus House of Representatives, the Coalition leader expressed the conviction that the accession to the European Union of all of Cyprus and the implementation of the European acquis communautaire will operate as a catalyst for the solution of the Cyprus issue.
He stressed that the aim remains for Cyprus to accede to the EU without obstacles.
The Coalition leader stressed that the solution of the Cyprus issue should be based on the acquis communautaire, the UN decisions and human rights.
 Greece to supply information requested by Hague tribunal in Milosevic trial
Athens, 07/02/2002 (ANA)The Greek justice ministry will respond on Thursday to a request for clarifications by Carla del Ponte, chief prosecutor in a UN war crimes tribunal trying former Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic on charges of genocide, regarding the movement of capital by Milosevic in Greece.
Government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Wednesday that the request from the international court at The Hague dated back to August 13, and Greece had immediately declared its willingness to cooperate closely, while full answers to the questions asked by del Ponte would be given on Thursday.
Milosevic was handed over to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague last June. His trial on charges of crimes against humanity against Kosovo Albanians in the first half of 1999 is scheduled to start on February 12.
 Europarliament groups confer with Assembly president
STRASBOURG, 07/02/2002 (ANA - O. Tsipira)Constitutional Assembly President Valery Giscard d-Estaing and presidents of the European parliament's political groups conferred for the first time here on Wednesday.
Coalition of the Left and Progress Eurodeputy and President of the Greek European Movement Committee (ELEEE) Mihalis Papayiannakis publicized a special written statement, referring to the two deputies who will be representing the Greek Parliament. They are Paraskevas Avgerinos (ELEEE Deputy President) and Marietta Yiannakou.
Papayiannakis said it is very positive that Greece will be represented by two deputies of the two major parties, who are aware of issues and have steadfast European conceptions, in the historic Assembly, which will discuss the future of Europe.
He added that both Avgerinos and Yiannakou, longstanding and capable Eurodeputies, have all the guarantees for good work in the Assembly.
 Latest Turkish claim charges Greek tours really aim at independent Pontus
ISTANBUL, 07/02/2002 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)The latest scenario alleging "Greek complicity" with so-called "secessionist" movements in Turkey claims that visits by Greek tourists to the Pontus area (southeastern Black Sea coast) are really aimed at "reviving" a Greek-language state in the area, or "Pontus-Rum"
In fact, one Turkish army colonel and garrison commander, identified as Ali Gungior Onguren, even claimed that "35 young men from the Black Sea region that support the so-called 'secessionist' movement 'Pontus Rum' are being trained in military camps in Greece".
No names or other details were reportedly given, although the claim resembles numerous allegations that Ankara and Turkish military circles have aired over the years in an attempt to discredit Greece.
Even more interesting was the venue the Turkish officer chose to make the allegation, namely, at a symposium focusing on the issue of "Cyprus in the EU's Grip", which was organized by the "Avrasya Bir" (Eurasia First) institute.
It was the Turkish mass daily "Zaman" that reported same officer's claim of "covert infiltration" under the guise of tourist excursions from Greece.
Moreover, the statements come in light of a series of articles by ultra-nationalist circles and publications in Turkey regarding the alleged "secessionist" campaign, along with the seizure of books on Pontus' history etc.
Conversely, Turkey's justice minister simply confined himself to calling such "secessionist threats" mere "fantasies", while at the same time condemning the ultra-nationalist campaign.
 Farmers' representatives and deputy minister discuss cotton
Athens, 07/02/2002 (ANA)Representatives of the General Confederation of Farmers Unions of Greece (GESASE) and Deputy Agriculture Minister Vangelis Argyris on Wednesday discussed issues concerning cotton, subsidies and compensation.
At the end of the four-hour talks, the presidents of federations currently participating in mobilizations (Serres, Drama, Kavala, Thessaloniki and Pella) left for their regions to brief their members and decide on whether or not to continue their roadblocks.
On the question of cotton, GESASE proposed, and the ministry agreed, that every effort should be made for European Union inflows, amounting to 670 million euros, the country is entitled to, to be received, strict checks should be made in all directions and the final outcome should be publicized and stiff penalties should be imposed on lawbreakers.
Also discussed were the issues of tobacco, the adulteration of products, natural disasters, the 3rd Community Support Frame-work (CSF), water potential and the farmers' register.
Farmers decide to escalate mobilization: Farmers' trade unionists who convened in the PASEGES trade union's building in Thermi, in Thessaloniki in northern Greece, on Wednesday night decided to escalate mobilization.
A new meeting will also be held in the Tempi valley at noon on Saturday to evaluate the situation.
Meanwhile, throughout the day farmers used tractors to periodically block many points along the Athens-Thessaloniki motorway, near Malgara, the road to Serres, near Promahonas, the Strymonas bridge and at Tempi.
The government spokesman said farmers' protests are respected but added that what Greek society wants is that mobilizations at the expense of citizens should not be chosen.
The agriculture minister said on Wednesday that the price of cotton will be announced at the end of February and initial assessments on the amount of production will be available at the end of next week.
Protopapas against roadblocks as farmers deliberate over future protests: With farmers due to decide whether to continue or even step up their protests later in the day, government spokesman Christos Protopapas reiterated on Wednesday that Greece was committed to observing European Union production ceilings for cotton and urged farmers not to adopt forms of protest that would up harming the public interest.
The spokesman's statements followed a meeting between farmers' representatives and Agriculture Minister George Drys on Tuesday night, during which the two sides failed to agree.
Meanwhile, farmers throughout the country continue to carry out unannounced surprise roadblocks and other forms of protest with even greater intensity, while local representatives traveled around rallying points beside national highways and briefed them on the results of Tuesday's meeting with the government.
A final decision on whether to continue the protests is expected after farming union representatives meet on Wednesday evening, while farmers manning roadside pickets appeared more militant and determined than ever. There were also signs, however, that morale might be flagging among those wearied after 10 days on the road and non-stop protests.
Farmers to get Dr 5.1 bln for losses in 2000 due to bad weather: Agriculture Minister George Drys said on Wednesday that farmers would receive 5.1 billion drachmas for losses they incurred in 2000 due to bad weather.
The losses to be compensated by the farm ministry, representing 30 percent of the total, are not slated for cash from other state bodies, Drys said.
 Greece, Bulgaria and Russia to sign oil pipeline memorandum
Athens, 07/02/2002 (ANA)Bulgaria, Greece and Russia will jointly sign a memorandum in Athens on April 6 on the construction of an oil pipeline to pump Russian oil from the Black Sea to the Aegean, according to an AFP dispatch from Sofia, Bulgaria, which quoted Deputy Development and Infrastructures Minister Hasan Hasan.
The Bulgarian official said the pipeline will be capable of carrying 35 million tones of oil annually and its construction, due to be completed before the end of 2007, will begin in 2003.
According to the program for utilizing Caspian oil, Russian oil will be carried from the Russian port of Novorosisk by sea to the Bulgarian port of Burgas and from there to Alexandroupolis, northern Greece.
The program's cost is currently budgeted at about 700 million euros.
 Greek economic prospects favorable in 2002, Eurochamber
Athens, 07/02/2002 (ANA)Greece's economic performance is particularly good and its prospects are favorable, the Eurochamber said in its annual economic report for 2002.
The report was presented by George Kasimatis, chairman of the Greek Chambers' Central Union, in a news conference on Wednesday.
The positive course of the Greek economy, the report said, was mainly attributed to a 10 percent increase of capital inflows from the European Union in the period 2000-2006, and to the prospect of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, an event likely to boost domestic demand.
The opening of Balkan markets and a rapid fall in consumer interest rates is expected to boost exports, investments and private consumption, thus maintaining a high level of confidence in the business sector, particularly in the manufacturing and services sectors, the report said.
Greek enterprises were optimistic for the current year, with the services sector leading the way, followed by manufacturing and exporting companies. Confidence is stronger among medium and large enterprises, while business sentiment remained low among smaller companies.
The report said that the country's employment sector would remain stable this year, almost unchanged from 2001 levels, as demand in the labor market was not expected to rise significantly. Any opportunities will arise from smaller- and medium-sized enterprises, the report noted.
Kasimatis said that the services and manufacturing sectors will perform positively in 2002, while he said that prospects were unfavorable for the commerce and shipping sectors.
The Eurochamber' annual report said that business confidence fell last year in Europe, a development that negatively affected employment and investment in the region.
European businessmen, however, were optimistic over their activities in 2002, and seemed to believe that a volatile global environment was not likely to affect the European economy. The report expects an improvement in business sentiment this year.
The report was based on answers by 100,000 businesses from 25 countries in Europe, including 10 EU candidates.
 EU seeks detail of Greek fiscal system in future economy reports
Athens, 07/02/2002 (ANA)Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Wednesday that the European Union's fiscal and economic policy committee had asked Greece to provide more detail on its fiscal system in future reports on the economy.
Christodoulakis was rejecting talk that the committee had questioned transparency in data received from Greece.
He also said that the budget for 2002 would contain a surplus of 0.8 percent against 1-1.5 percent in other European economies; and that the Greek figure was acceptable to the EU's executive Commission.
The minister added that a decline in the Greek debt of 3.0 percent was low against a 5.0-6.0 percent rate of growth; but Greece had defense spending of 5.0-6.0 percent against 2.0 in other European countries, due to its location in an "uncertain geopolitical area."
 Cyprus Airways intends to create subsidiary in Greece
Athens, 07/02/2002 (ANA)Cyprus Airways board president Haris Loizidis, speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, said the Greek market constitutes the natural place for the expansion of the airline's activities, adding that the company intends to utilize Greece and possibilities provided by the European Union for flights to Europe with its own subsidiary in Greece.
He also referred to discussions carried out with the Aegean-Cronus airline without, for the time being, anything binding existing for the one or the other company.
 U.S. ambassador and deputy minister discuss tourism sector
Athens, 07/02/2002 (ANA)US Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller visited Deputy Development Minister Dimitris Georgakopoulos on Wednesday and was briefed on the denationalization program being promoted in the tourism sector by the Greek Tourist Real Estate Company, a subsidiary of the Greek Tourist Organization (EOT).
Miller also referred to the interest of American businessmen to invest in tourism in Greece. General issues concerning bilateral cooperation in tourism were also discussed.
Georgakopoulos stressed Greece's interest in the American tourism market and presented the new integrated program for promoting the country with the purpose of increasing the influx of tourists, particularly in the framework of the negative conjuncture created in the wake of last September's terrorist attack in the United States.
 Merchant marine minister urges for "truce" in OLP flotation
Athens, 07/02/2002 (ANA)Greek Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis on Wednesday called for a "truce" among all parties involved in a plan to float the Piraeus Port Organization (OLP), urging for a more positive stance to protect the procedure.
Commenting on the implementation of a new regulatory framework for the domestic passenger-shipping sector, Anomeritis said that companies submitted 273 applications for new sea route licensing and that final decisions would be announced by May 31st.
Anomeritis said that talks with passenger shipping owners - demanding a 25 percent increase in fares this summer - was based on three issues: the charter register, third party surcharges and fare discounts. He rejected, however, the proposed 25 percent increase in fares.
Anomeritis on possible Greece-Syria sea link: Greece's merchant marine minister on Wednesday touched on the issue of reviving a ferryboat route between the Greece and Syria, following initial contacts in Damascus over the past week.
Minister George Anomeritis emphasized, however, that Syrian officials were briefed that sea transports and a ferryboat link with Greece necessitates an upgrading of harbors and port facilities in Syria. Along those lines, he said the Piraeus Port Authority S.A. - Greece's largest -- in partnership with private firms is ready to modernize the Syrian ports of Tarsus and Lattakia - both offered by Damascus as candidates for a potential Greece-Syria route.
 Greek shipping register rises in January
Athens, 07/02/2002 (ANA)Greek shipping register increased by two vessels in January, although it fell in tonnage terms, official figures showed on Wednesday.
Port Authorities said that 13 new vessels were registered in the first month of 2002 and 11 were deleted.
Newly registered vessels had a total capacity of 250,905 tons with an average age of 10 years, while deleted vessels' capacity was 468,308 tons with an average age of 27 years.
 Gov't energy bill to parliament next month
Athens, 07/02/2002 (ANA)Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Wednesday that he would send an energy bill to parliament next month, paving the way for participation in the European Union's common electricity and natural gas market by 2006.
In addition, the government planned to deregulate the natural gas market earlier than required, Tsohatzopoulos told parliament's production and trade committee in a briefing on development policy.
Turning to renewable energy, which represents 10 percent of energy demand, the minister said he felt that a target of 20 percent by the end of the decade may not be attained.
 Greek stocks' fall reaches day four
Athens, 07/02/2002 (ANA)Equity prices remained under mild pressure for the fourth consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, hit by a negative climate in international markets.
The general index ended 0.44 percent lower at 2,551.97 points, with turnover a low Dr 33.2 billion, or 97.6 million euros.
The Holding, Textiles and IT Solutions sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (1.13 percent, 1.06 percent and 0.80 percent, respectively), while the Construction, Insurance and Wholesale sectors scored moderate gains (0.90 percent, 0.64 percent and 0.30 percent).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.46 percent lower, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index fell 0.12 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index eased 0.06 percent.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 173 to 138 with another 46 issues unchanged.
The most heavily traded shares were National Bank of Greece, Piraeus Bank, Klonatex (common), Intracom, Alpha Bank, Public Power Corporation, Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, and Giannousis.
Equity FTSE/ASE-20 futures at premium: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange ended higher on Wednesday with trades in the FTSE/ASE-20 ending at a premium.
Changing hands were 5,996 contracts in brisk trade.
The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips shed 0.46 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks lost 0.12 percent.
Bond prices drop in heavy trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Wednesday finished lower in heavy trade focusing on 15-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.23 percent, and the spread over German bunds was 37 basis points.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 2.3 billion euros.
Sell orders accounted for the lion's share of turnover.
 Culture minister in New York en route to Salt Lake City Games
Athens, 07/02/2002 (ANA)Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, currently in the United States to attend the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, told reporters at a press conference in New York on Wednesday that he and the Athens Olympics Organizing Committee (ATHOC) would take advantage of the visit to pick up useful tips for the Olympics in Athens.
Greece was particularly interested in crucial aspects of running an Olympic city, such as security, hospitality, transport and Olympics infrastructure, he said.
He also emphasized the Cultural Olympiad, saying that the Greek culture ministry had succeeded in setting up a 300 sq. meter pavilion is Salt Lake City with a digital presentation on Olympics preparations, the Cultural Olympiad and the return of the Parthenon Marbles.
On Tuesday, meanwhile, the minister had held a meeting with participants in Greek studies courses at New York-area universities, such as Columbia, Yale, Kings College and Stockton in New Jersey.
A culture ministry announcement on Wednesday said that the meeting focused on cooperation between academic institutions involved in Greek studies and ways in which academic society could contribute to the activities of the Olympics and the Cultural Olympiad.
While in New York, Venizelos also met the director of the American Ballet Theater, which is to take part in the Cultural Olympiad events in New York and in Athens in 2003.
The minister also met with members of the Greek-American community from academic and business circles at the Greek Consulate in New York.
 Venizelos meets Archbishop of America Dimitrios
NEW YORK, 07/02/2002 (ANA)Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos held a meeting with Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America Dimitrios here on Wednesday.
Following their one-hour meeting, the Archbishop said they had the opportunity to discuss the preparations for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and cultural issues such as the participation of Greek-American youth in events of a cultural nature with trips to Greece.
The culture minister said he briefed Archbishop Dimitrios on the preparations for the 2004 Games, the Cultural Olympiad and on the Greek cultural programs being arranged in New York and in the United States in general.
The minister added that they discussed ways of cooperation, particularly concerning Greek-American youth, to come to Greece mainly in the summer months, as this would be a major source of the volunteerism movement, which is a basic parameter of the preparations for the Olympic Games.
Replying to a journalist's question whether he discussed with the Archbishop the issue of the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, the minister said this issue was not discussed but that "the Archbishop is aware, he knows the efforts we are making and I am sure that he will help us in ecclesiastical circles in every way."
Following his meeting with Archbishop Dimitrios, Venizelos concluded his contacts in New York.
The culture minister was due to depart in the afternoon for Salt Lake City to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games and hold talks, among others, with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge and other officials.
 Ministry donates pharmaceuticals to Bulgarian hospital
SOFIA, 07/02/2002 (ANA - M. Borisov)Representatives of the "Chemists of the World" international organizations Greek section delivered antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals worth 44,000 euros, constituting a donation by the Greek health ministry, to the Saint Anne hospital here on Wednesday.
The pharmaceuticals were delivered to the hospital's director Dimitr Dimitrov on behalf of the Greek organization during an official ceremony, attended by Bulgarian Red Cross officials and Greek diplomats.
According to an announcement by the Greek embassy, the Greek government's steadfast policy is to provide aid where it is necessary and, primarily, to agencies of great social importance.
Serious problems have appeared in the Bulgarian pharmaceuticals market over the past two months for various reasons and as a result the smooth functioning of many hospitals in the country has been affected.
 President Clerides, Denktash meet for tenth time since January 16
NICOSIA, 07/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash met for the tenth time since January 16 in Nicosia on Wednesday afternoon, in the context of direct talks taking place in the presence of UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto.
The meeting, which took place in a building near the UN-controlled Nicosia airport, lasted about 90 minutes. Discussions were expected to continue on the issue of security.
Direct talks meetings rescheduled in the coming week: Meetings in the framework of UN-led direct talks between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot Rauf Denktash, that began on January 16, have been rescheduled for the next ten days.
 Nicosia-Athens in constant consultations, government spokesman says
NICOSIA, 07/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)Nicosia and Athens have continuous contact and consultations in view of next week's meeting between Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem in Istanbul, on the sidelines of the Joint European Union - Organization of Islamic Conference Forum, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said here on Wednesday.
"Greece has repeatedly said that there cannot be any normalization of relations with Turkey without a fair settlement in Cyprus," the spokesman said, adding that any attempt by Greece and Turkey to iron out their differences and create a better climate is something, which inadvertently could facilitate the Cyprus peace effort.
Replying to questions, Papapetrou said Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides' presence in Turkey next week, to participate in the Joint Forum, is "in itself of immense political significance in relation to EU enlargement and to the effort to find a solution of the Cyprus question."
Asked if Kasoulides will seek a meeting with Cem, the spokesman said he did not think this was feasible at present and added "we have often said that we are ready for such meetings."
Cyprus was invited to the Forum in its capacity as candidate country for EU accession. Turkey, an organizer of the meeting, continues to occupy Cyprus' northern part since its troops invaded in 1974 and does not recognize the government of the Republic as the sole legitimate government in Cyprus.
Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, with Ankara's assistance, has set up an illegal regime in occupied Cyprus, which the UN has called "legally invalid" and the European Court of Human Rights described as a "subordinate local administration" to Ankara. Turkey is the only country that recognizes that regime.
 GRECO adopts report on Cyprus regarding corruption
NICOSIA, 07/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)The evaluation report on Cyprus regarding corruption has been recently adopted by the GRECO Committee (Group of States against corruption) of the Council of Europe.
According to an official press release issued here on Wednesday, the report is considered to be "very good" and projects Cyprus "as a country that has not been influenced to great extent by corruption, since it has the necessary legislation for combating or preventing this phenomenon."
Cyprus is the ninth country that has been evaluated so far. For this reason an evaluation team visited Cyprus in December 2000.
GRECO was established in 1998 and Cyprus is one of the founding states. It aims to evaluate its member states on issues regarding the measures taken against corruption, as determined by the Conventions and the Recommendations of the Council of Europe. In its evaluation reports GRECO submits relevant suggestions where necessary.