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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-02-15

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

February 15, 2002


  • [01] Gov't bill restricts transactions between media owners and public sector
  • [02] FM meets Israeli Knesset President
  • [03] Greek Deputy FMs on Greek Reconstruction Plan for SE Europe
  • [04] EU continues to support negotiations for the Cyprus problem, Verheugen says
  • [05] Greece to send evidence for war crimes in Yugoslavia to The Hague, FM says
  • [06] Premier recounts successes, rebuts criticism on gov't actions
  • [07] Protopapas: Greece will fight former royals' 'outrageous' demands
  • [08] Main opposition cadres discuss local elections' run up timetables
  • [09] Athens mayor receives ruling PASOK's nominee for the post of the city's mayor
  • [10] EU education ministers on educational policy independence
  • [11] Coalition leader slams government's 'neoliberal ' course
  • [12] Coalition MP questions legality of Petrola refinery extension
  • [13] Magriotis meets ambassadors of Tunisia, Indonesia
  • [14] Latest deadline in Olympic Airways tender ends Friday
  • [15] National Bank to open its first branch in Yugoslavia
  • [16] Greek real farm prices up 4.3 pct in April-June 2001
  • [17] EU proposes new measures to back farming in the Aegean
  • [18] Starting price for sale of Parnes casino set at 80-mln euros
  • [19] Allianz insurances Athens Olympic project
  • [20] Minister probes plan for listed companies' governing
  • [21] UBS Warburg says National Bank's profit to fall
  • [22] Greek stocks end slightly up in thin trade
  • [23] 3rd century B.C. building complex discovered in Macedonia
  • [24] Wealth of gold and information found in ancient Macedonian tombs
  • [25] EU informal meeting on illegal immigration, trafficking of human beings
  • [26] Two US servicemen in Crete arrested for mugging/beating of woman
  • [27] Parliament president kicks off reforestation season
  • [28] Cyprus leaders hold 12th meeting to solve problem
  • [29] Cyprus talks break briefly
  • [30] US Ambassador says Cyprus faces 'moment of destiny'
  • [31] "Athens 2004" President to visit Cyprus

  • [01] Gov't bill restricts transactions between media owners and public sector

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    Press and Media Minister Christos Protopapas on Thursday officially presented the government's bill restricting economic transactions between the owners of media enterprises with the state sector.

    The proposed bill executes Constitutional articles prohibiting owners of mass media enterprises from entering into contracts with the public sector above a certain size and defines the term 'main shareholder' in a media company.

    Protopapas said the bill would be tabled in Parliament in about a month's time, after it had been examined and discussed by all relevant bodies, starting on Thursday evening with the Athens union of journalists ESHEA.

    Under the proposed law, the main shareholder was defined as any legal or natural entity that possessed 5 percent or more of the company's stock, or persons who owned less than 5 per cent of the stock but had a managerial position, or were a related person or an economically dependent person.

    The minister said the law defined "a combination determined by the executive responsibilities and powers possessed by these persons that are vital to the achievement of the goals of the said enterprise," in accordance with article 1 of the proposed law.

    The state-sector contracts or transactions prohibited under the proposed bill were defined as those whose value exceeded 250,000 euros and which were drawn up in writing for the execution of a project or the provision of goods and services between a private-sector entity and one belonging to the wider public sector. In addition, the bill also prohibited contracts for goods and services worth less than 250,000 euros if these were part of a larger project or agreement for the provisions of goods and services.

    "The Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) have named their representatives for discussion on this issue, but (main opposition) New Democracy refuses to conduct dialogue and maximizes demands because it does not want a thing to be done," Protopapas said.

    Later in the day, ND spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos responded saying that "with its decisions for the mass media and with its previous 'irresponsible choice' regarding the definition of 'main shareholder' the Simitis government has proven that in reality, it is interested not in wiping out of mass media vested interests, but in their institutional entrenchment".

    He added that ND "promises that when it governs the country will immediately create institutions based on all the proposals it has tabled regarding transparency in public life and thus in combatting mass media vested interests".

    On its part, the Free Citizens' Movement (KEP) notes that the proposal for the relationship of the main shareholder to a radio or television station "limits the mandate of the Constitution to respond to only one question, that of the ceiling of the participation in the invested capital".

    [02] FM meets Israeli Knesset President

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou discussed recent developments in the Middle East issue with visiting Israeli Knesset President Avraham Burg on Thursday.

    Papandreou later said he and Burg discussed the European Union's role in efforts to encourage the peace process, as well as the role of Greece, which, as he said, can take initiatives in this direction.

    He avoided giving details of the form of these initiatives, but noted that the issue should be discussed first in the framework of the General Affairs Council, due to convene in Brussels on Monday.

    Burg, who signed the proclamation for the Olympic Truce together with the Knesset's Palestinian vice president after the statements were made, presented a gloomy picture of the situation prevailing in the region, stressing that clashes, bloodshed and human grief are a problem for both Israelis and Palestinians.

    He called for a more active role in the peace process on the part of the EU, as well as a more active involvement by Greece, and mentioned Greece's useful experience in the Balkans and the rapprochement process with Turkey.

    Burg said "violence begets violence and does not secure peace" and, asked to comment on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's positions, added that "the issue is difficult" since "there is the view according to which negotiations should only begin if it is absolutely sure that there will be a result. But there is also the view supported by the Labor Party, Shimon Peres, myself and Parliament which claims that we should not rule out dialogue for any reason."

    "Dialogue never leads to a funeral," Burg added.

    [03] Greek Deputy FMs on Greek Reconstruction Plan for SE Europe

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    Greece's dialogue with the recipient countries of southeastern Europe, which includes the Greek Reconstruction Plan, is in progress and soon the five bilateral programs deriving from the Plan will be ready, Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos said in statements on Thursday night on the sidelines of briefing contacts he had with representatives of producer classes in Thessaloniki.

    Also present at the meetings was the other Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis.

    A bill will be tabled in parliament on Monday for the implementation of the Reconstruction Plan.

    Loverdos admitted that the Plan "had frozen", claiming however that now it is proceeding very swiftly. He expressed optimism that all relevant programs with the five recipient countries will have been signed by the summer.

    According to Loverdos, the best-prepared country is Albania but the next to benefit from the programs of the Greek Plan is the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    He added that through the Greek Plan, the role of Thessaloniki is also upgraded as the city is involved in all the phases of the program.

    On his part, Magriotis said that the Greek Plan has a complete philosophy and constitutes the fact of the strong Greek economy, which can offer the development of other countries. However, he said characteristically that "we have heard many words by big international organizations but the only program with secured resources is the Greek one."

    [04] EU continues to support negotiations for the Cyprus problem, Verheugen says

    ISTANBUL, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    The European Union continues to support the negotiation process toward a solution of the Cyprus problem, European Commissioner Guenter Verheugen said in Ankara on Thursday, during a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem.

    He added that there are no changes in the timetable of the Cyprus EU accession process.

    The two men also discussed the progress of Turkey's candidacy to the EU, and Verheugen stressed that the Union is expecting from Turkey to promote reforms regarding the abolition of the death penalty and the education rights, adding that the accession negotiations with Turkey will begin when the country fulfills the Copenhagen criteria for accession.

    He also noted that the date for the initiation of negotiations will be determined by the progress made within Turkey.

    [05] Greece to send evidence for war crimes in Yugoslavia to The Hague, FM says

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    The Greek government and the Parliament have ratified legislation for cooperation with the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Thursday said, when asked questions concerning evidence Greece will send to the court in relation with the war crimes in former Yugoslavia.

    Papandreou noted that the evidence requested by the court has been collected and will be sent to The Hague, making it clear that it is not up to the Greek government to evaluate if that evidence constitutes criminal actions.

    Earlier in the day, foreign ministry spokesman Panagiotis Beglitis said that the justice ministry has forwarded to the foreign ministry a huge file with evidence regarding transaction of certain bank accounts.

    He added that the file would be sent to the court via diplomatic channels.

    On his part, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said that Greece collected the evidence based on specific questions posed by the prosecutor of the court and Greece answered on those questions.

    [06] Premier recounts successes, rebuts criticism on gov't actions

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday recounted the success of the government and called on his ministers to rebut all criticism with data proving the progress made in all sectors.

    Briefing the press on the cabinet meeting, government spokes-man Christos Protopapas said that the premier stressed the success of the government in introducing the euro, the high rate of economic development and the good progress of the projects related to the third community support framework fund.

    The premier also noted that inflation rose mostly due to the bad weather conditions and is expected to decline once again during the coming months, Protopapas said.

    Speaking on the draft legislation for the ownership status and the code of conduct for the electronic mass media - which was the major topic of the cabinet meeting's agenda - Protopapas said that Simitis stressed that this issue concerns a basic institution of democracy, which plays the role of controlling the checking on authority, baring freedom but also giving birth to the obligation of responsibility on the part of the media, so as to avoid misuse of power.

    Simitis also spoke to his ministers of the time table for the government's actions, saying that "until September the social security issue will have progressed, along with the tax system reform, the preparation for the Greek presidency of the European Union and the third community support framework fund projects.

    [07] Protopapas: Greece will fight former royals' 'outrageous' demands

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis asked all the ministers involved to collaborate in dealing with the "unreasonable and outrageous" demands of Greece's former king Constantine in an outstanding property dispute with the Greek state, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Thursday.

    Responding to questions on the issue, the spokesman referred to statements made by Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on the subject and said that the government would fight hard to win this particular battle.

    The Glucksburg royals filed a suit against the Greek government for confiscating the three valuable estates in Greece with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, which in November 2000 found that Greece was in violation of Article 1 of the first protocol of the European Convention of Human Rights that guarantees the right of property.

    The court had said it would examine the issue of compensation at a later date.

    Constantine had demanded US$1.4 billion in compensation for the contested properties, namely, the Tatoi country estate outside northern Athens, the Mon Repos summer palace on the Ionian holiday island of Corfu and the Polidendri forest estate in the foothills south of Mount Olympus in central Greece.

    In May last year, the Greek government said that the total compensation due to the former royal was nil and warned that he would be liable to pay back taxes on all three properties if he was awarded compensation for them.

    The Greek government confiscated the three properties on the premise that they were obtained under "dubious circumstances" by Constantine's ancestors and had never really been private property but public property set aside for use by the royal family.

    The properties were first seized by a military junta ruling Greece between 1967-73, while the monarchy was permanently abolish-ed in a referendum following the fall of the military regime.

    In 1979 the expropriation of the land was overturned by a Greek court and then confiscated again in 1994 by the then newly elected PASOK government.

    [08] Main opposition cadres discuss local elections' run up timetables

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party cadres met on Thursday under the chairmanship of party leader Costas Karamanlis to discuss timetables and procedures for the October municipal and prefectural elections

    According to sources, the party will announce on March 20 a circular detailing the election run up meetings and detailed timetables.

    The same sources noted that the meeting's agenda also included draft legislation currently in Parliament on ownership regulations regarding electronic mass media in Greece.

    [09] Athens mayor receives ruling PASOK's nominee for the post of the city's mayor

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    Ruling PASOK party deputy Christos Papoutsis on Friday visited Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, in his capacity as PASOK's candidate for the top post of the largest municipality of Greece.

    Papoutsis, who was given the nomination by PASOK to run for mayor in Athens, requested to be briefed on the projects of the municipality under way.

    During the meeting Avramopoulos expressed his concern over the early announcement of nominations, seeing as the elections will be held in October, and Papoutsis responded that at this point only the preparations for the election campaign are underway, while the full-blown campaign will not begin before September.

    [10] EU education ministers on educational policy independence

    BRUSSELS, 15/02/2002 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)

    European Union education ministers convened here on Thursday, underlining education policy's independence from market mandates and stressing that it should not be attached absolutely to employment needs.

    The Council of Education Ministers, in which Greece was represented by Education Minister Petros Efthymiou, authorized Spanish President Pilar del Castillo to convey a relevant letter to the Barcelona summit (March 15-16, 2002) calling on European leaders to take into consideration the need to dissociate educational policy from employment.

    Efthymiou said the targets set in Lisbon on promoting new technologies in the EU, which gave education a role attached to employment, should be interpreted through a "dynamic development" safeguarding education's independence. This view was already set out by Prime Minister Costas Simitis at the Stockholm summit (in March, 2001).

    According to Efthymiou, the idea has now been consolidated that education is tending to become the EU's "fifth pylon" which is trying to pave the way for a common educational policy to enable it to meet the claim for "a Europe of peoples."

    The education ministers on Thursday ratified common policy targets on education and adopted proposals on lifelong education.

    [11] Coalition leader slams government's 'neoliberal ' course

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos, speaking on Thursday at an event organized by his party on the theme "Globalization, economic regulation and the left", said that the government was "continuing its neoliberal and antisocial course, pleased only with itself, without solutions on the major problems of education, social insurance, unemployment, health and of the farmers."

    Constantopoulos attributed responsibility to the government for the economic policy being followed, which he said has caused great discomfort to Greek society.

    He added that the government "has great responsibility over the fact that social deficits and exclusions are increasing but also for the fact that Greece is first in gambling and last in social expenditures."

    [12] Coalition MP questions legality of Petrola refinery extension

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    The permission given to Petrola to extend its refinery was an example of financial power centers operating within government, a Coalition party MP said in Parliament on Thursday, while he accused the government of "bowing to the pressures of an economic colossus".

    In a question put to Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, the MP noted that permission had been given in violation of laws for sustainable development in Attica, that the reports by the company contained inaccurate information and that the law allowed only low impact new units (up to 1500 mW), whereas Petrola's new unit was high impact (53,000 mW).

    Deputy Development Minister Christos Theodorou replied that the license was issued legally because the initial approval had been granted on the basis of presidential decree 8484, before the 2001 law had been passed.

    He also said that it was possible to make an exception to this and other laws in the case of "major investments" such as the Petrola refinery.

    [13] Magriotis meets ambassadors of Tunisia, Indonesia

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Ioannis Magriotis on Thursday received the new Tunisian Ambassador to Greece M. Bachrouche to discuss an upcoming visit by Tunisia's president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to Greece, according to a press release from the foreign ministry.

    They also discussed bilateral cooperation between Greece and Tunisia on a political and economic level and multilateral cooperation within the Barcelona Convention in the framework of the Mediterranean Action Plan and Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation.

    Afterwards, Magriotis met with Indonesian Ambassador in Athens F. Lopez da Cruz and confirmed the good relations between Greece and Indonesia, as well as discussing an official visit by Indonesian Foreign Minister Noer Hasan Wirajuda later in the year.

    [14] Latest deadline in Olympic Airways tender ends Friday

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    The latest deadline in a tender for the sale of a 51 stake in national carrier Olympic Airways ends on Friday with the frontrunner due to provide a letter of guarantee worth 102 million euros so that purchase negotiations may continue.

    The deadline is the fourth extension so far with the leading consortium, IAS of Australia, due to furnish the guarantee and provide details of its composition and finances.

    According to unnamed IAS sources quoted in the press, the guarantee will be given on schedule to the government's consultant in the tender, Credit Suisse First Boston.

    The government has made no comment.

    [15] National Bank to open its first branch in Yugoslavia

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    National Bank of Greece will make another significant step towards becoming a regional leader in the Balkans and the wider region with the opening of its first branch in Belgrade on Monday.

    The inauguration ceremony will attend Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, National Bank's governor Theodore Karatzas and Greek businessmen with activities in the region.

    National Bank already has a leading position in Bulgaria and FYROM and plans to enhance and expand its activities in the world's large financial centers.

    The group has activities in 17 countries with a branch network of 350 units and around 5,400 employees. National Bank Group is the first Greek financial institution to list its shares in the New York Stock Exchange.

    Bank officials said that the management aimed to secure 20 percent of its total profits from its international activities, up from 10 percent currently.

    National Bank's subsidiaries abroad include: - Atlantic Bank of New York. A US bank founded in 1953 that currently ranks among the 25 largest banks in New York. It operates a branch network of 13 units in regions with a significant Greek Diaspora (New York, Boston, Chicago). National Bank recently acquired Yonkers Financial Corporation, a regional bank to be merged with Atlantic Bank. - In Cyprus, National Bank of Greece (Cyprus) Ltd operates a network of 24 branches and a mutual fund management company. - In Canada, NBG Canada is based in Montreal. It was founded in 1982 and cover a wide range of banking services with focus on real estate financing. It operates a network of nine branches. - In the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), National Bank acquired a 65 percent equity stake in Stopanska Banka in April 2000, raising its stake to 70.16 percent. Stopanska is the biggest bank in the neighboring country with a network of 26 units. - South African Bank of Athens (SABA) was founded in 1947 and it is based in Johannesburg. It operates a network of 15 branches in Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria. - In Bulgaria, National Bank acquired a 89.9 percent equity stake in United Bulgarian Bank (UBB), a bank with a network of 146 units and the largest ATM network in the country. - National Bank also has branches in Australia, France, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Turkey, Egypt, Romania and Albania.

    [16] Greek real farm prices up 4.3 pct in April-June 2001

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    Real farm prices in Greece, inflation-free, rose by 4.3 percent in the second quarter of 2001 compared with the same period in 2000, Eurostat said on Thursday.

    The EU executive's statistics agency said in a report that real farm produce prices rose 4.5 percent in the April-June period, with livestock real prices up 4.0 percent in the same period.

    Real farm prices rose 4.0 percent in the EU-15 and 3.7 percent in the eurozone in the second quarter of 2001, with growth rates varying from +0.1 percent in Holland to +13.8 percent in Portugal, with only Luxembourg recording an 1.11 percent drop.

    [17] EU proposes new measures to back farming in the Aegean

    BRUSSELS, 15/02/2002 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    The European Union's executive Commission on Thursday proposed new measures to back output in selected farm products in the Aegean islands.

    The proposed measures would include wheat, cottonseed, honey, and offer a 15 percent rise in financial support for investments in agricultural operations in the region.

    Financing of 25-26 million euros annually is provided from the European Agricultural Orientation and Guarantees Fund to aid farming in the Aegean islands following rulings in 1993 that aimed to improve farming in the region and maintain agricultural and natural resources.

    The measures apply to islands with a population of fewer than 100,000 inhabitants.

    [18] Starting price for sale of Parnes casino set at 80-mln euros

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    The government on Thursday set the starting price for the sale of a 49 percent stake in the Mount Parnes Casino near Athens at 80 million euros.

    Bidders in the tender are Club Hotel Loutraki with Piraeus Bank, and Hyatt with Hellenic Technodomiki, who are to be shown a draft contract next week covering details of management rights and share sale.

    The winner of the tender will also be given an option for a further two percent of stock in the casino on completion of an investment plan ahead of entry into the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Furthermore, short listed candidates in the privatization of three marinas near Athens - Alimos, Flisvos and Zea are to be given tender documents. The winner is due for announcement by April.

    Finally tenders are to be announced in the first half of March for creation of a conference center in Athens, operation of a gold course in Rhodes, and creation of a theme park in Attica.

    The decisions were taken at a meeting on Thursday of Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and executives of Hellenic Tourism Real Estate, a subsidiary of the Greek National Tourism Organization.

    [19] Allianz insurances Athens Olympic project

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    Allianz AEGA, the Greek subsidiary of Allianz Group, on Thursday announced a contract, with a participation of 75 percent, to insure the Rowing, Canoe-Kayak Olympic Center to be build in Marathon for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

    The insurance contract is worth 45,878,617 euros and covers both the construction and the maintenance periods of the project.

    [20] Minister probes plan for listed companies' governing

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis held talks with capital market officials on Thursday on finalizing the plan on listed companies' partnership governing.

    The Capital Market Committee processed proposals on partner-ship governing, an issue of particular interest for foreign institutional investors, on international models and the relevant plan will take the form of a bill and will be presented in Parliament for ratification.

    The bill on partnership governing defines the rights and obligations of a listed company's shareholders, establishes the equal handling of shareholders and secures transparency and control of listed companies to a considerable degree.

    [21] UBS Warburg says National Bank's profit to fall

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    UBS Warburg expects National Bank's net profit to drop by 34 percent to 475 million euros in 2001, but it maintains its share price target to 27.4 euros per share with a "hold" recommendation for the bank.

    UBS Warburg's analysts said in a report that National Bank was facing the challenge to reduce its operating cost and to benefit from cross sales, a combination that could be achieved through an "aggressive" restructuring of its network.

    [22] Greek stocks end slightly up in thin trade

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    Equity prices moved sideways in subdued trading conditions on the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, in a market characterized by lack of buying interest and liquidity shortage.

    The general index ended 0.01 percent higher to 2,494.91 points, its first positive close after nine consecutive sessions of decline. Turnover was a low Dr 29.36 billion, or 86.18 million euros.

    The IT Solutions and Food-Beverage sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (0.87 percent and 0.74 percent, respectively, while the Retail, Insurance and Telecoms sectors suffered the heaviest losses (1.33 percent, 0.80 percent and 0.53 percent).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.12 percent higher, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index rose 0.19 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 0.12 percent higher. The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 0.78 percent up.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 176 to 106 with another 77 issues unchanged.

    The most heavily traded shares were Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, Space Hellas, Grigoris, Commercial Bank of Greece and Alpha Bank.

    Equity index futures trade at premium: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange traded at a premium on Thursday in heavy turnover, outperforming the underlying market, which finished flat.

    Changing hands were 8,553 contracts on turnover of 53.9 million euros.

    The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips gained 0.12 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks rose 0.19 percent.

    Bond prices rise in light trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Thursday finished higher in light trade focusing on five-year paper.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.33 percent, and the spread over German bunds was 34 basis points.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 1.5 billion euros.

    Buy orders accounted for the lion's share of turnover.

    [23] 3rd century B.C. building complex discovered in Macedonia

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    A building complex dating back to the 3rd century B.C. including fortification works has been discovered in the region of Vrasna in the prefecture of Thessaloniki, northern Greece.

    According to findings and its location (it controls the passage from Macedonia to Thrace) the fortress constituted, according to experts, a center for collecting and distributing the region's agricultural produce.

    The fortress is the first to be discovered in the region of central Macedonia and its discovery was announced on Thursday night during an archaeological conference on archaeological work in Macedonia and Thrace by archaeologist Polyxeni Veleni, who was in charge of excavations.

    The perimeter of the fortress discovered reaches about 70 meters and its area covers an acre. The fortress has five sides and towers along its sides, while a two-story building is in the middle.

    Dozens of copper coins were also found on the floor of an olive oil press, dating back to the reign of Philippos II, and two silver ones of that of Alexander the Great.

    [24] Wealth of gold and information found in ancient Macedonian tombs

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    A wealth of gold and information came to light at the prehistoric and archaic times cemetery of the Archontikon, central Greece village, allowing a glimpse in Macedonian life during the 6th and 5th centuries B.C.

    The finds will be shown and the preliminary study results were announced officially by head of archaeological digs in the area Pavlos Chrysostomou during a conference in Thessaloniki on Thursday.

    Although many of the 170 tombs investigated to date were dug and destroyed by antiquities smugglers several were found intact and provided scores of golden, iron, copper, amber and clay artifacts.

    The finds included iron swords, golden diadems and masks, jewelry made of gold and amber, silver and copper and were topped by a rectangular piece of gold place on the mouth of the tomb's occupant.

    [25] EU informal meeting on illegal immigration, trafficking of human beings

    MADRID, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    EU Justice and Internal Affairs ministers held an informal meeting in Spain's city of Santiago de Cobostela on Thursday to examine the issue of illegal immigration and the trafficking of human beings.

    Taking part on the part of Greece were Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos and Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis.

    The ministers agreed that action must be taken among the EU member countries for the combatting of illegal immigration.

    Chrysohoidis said that beyond Greece's particular sensitivity on the issue of illegal immigration, due to the country's geographic position, the issue was a common problem for EU countries and that speeding solutions should be found particularly in view of the phenomenon of the great tide of illegal immigrants from the East and Asia.

    The Greek minister said that the EU should sign agreements on repatriation of illegal immigrants with a number of countries, such as Pakistan, India, China, Iran and Ukraine as well as with African countries.

    Petsalnikos stressed that the democratic control, activities and effectiveness of Europol (Belgium-Spain initiative) should be examined in the future.

    [26] Two US servicemen in Crete arrested for mugging/beating of woman

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    Two American servicemen from the Souda airbase on Crete have been arrested for mugging and beating a local woman, it was learned on Thursday.

    The two men, who are serving at the Souda base and whose names were not released, were charged by the Hania prosecutor on Thursday for the mugging and beating of a local woman in the early hours of February 2 in Hania. They are accused of stealing Mina Kallou's handbag containing 300,000 drachmas and then punching her in the face.

    Local residents and organizations will be staging a demonstration over the incident on Friday afternoon.

    [27] Parliament president kicks off reforestation season

    Athens, 15/02/2002 (ANA)

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis on Thursday inaugurated the 2002 reforestation season at the mountain of Hemitous, overlooking Athens, in light of the International Volunteerism Day.

    Kaklamanis said that the destruction of the natural environment was a great blow to human life, adding that this "blow" made by people against the environment in Hemitous, should be remedied by people.

    [28] Cyprus leaders hold 12th meeting to solve problem

    NICOSIA, 15/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash met on Thursday afternoon in Nicosia, within the framework of their direct talks on the Cyprus problem, in the presence of the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto.

    The meeting, their 12th since January 16, took place in a building near the UN-controlled Nicosia airport, and lasted for about an hour.

    At Thursday's meeting, the two leaders were expected to exchange documents on the issue of territory.

    President Clerides was accompanied as usual by his aides, Attorney General Alecos Markides, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou and Undersecretary to the President Pantelis Kouros.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [29] Cyprus talks break briefly

    NICOSIA, 15/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The United Nations have announced that direct talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, to solve the Cyprus problem, will break for a brief reflection period and will resume on March 1, with fewer but longer meetings. A statement issued late Thursday afternoon by the United Nations

    Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) says that the two leaders "will meet again tomorrow as earlier planned" and "will have one more meeting on Tuesday, February 19, 2002, before breaking in light of the Bayram and for a brief reflection period".

    During this break, the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto "will travel to New York to report to the Secretary General and to brief the members of the Security Council".

    [30] US Ambassador says Cyprus faces 'moment of destiny'

    NICOSIA, 15/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    US Ambassador in Nicosia Donald Bandler stressed here on Thursday that this is a very important moment for Cyprus and the region, what one might call "a moment of destiny", regarding the Cyprus question.

    Speaking after a meeting with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, he added "it is very important that everybody works together to make the very best by that opportunity".

    "I had an excellent meeting with President Clerides, we covered a wide range of issues, certainly on the Cyprus question, we are working very closely together as we have been for along time", the US Ambassador noted, who earlier on Thursday met with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.

    Regarding a reception hosted by the Embassy in the Turkish occupied areas of the island, causing the dissatisfaction of the Cyprus government, Bandler said "more than enough has been said about that", noting that this issue was not raised in his meetings on Thursday.

    In a statement following the reception, the US Embassy said it had included "a wide spectrum of guests," adding that "there should not be any controversy over meeting with anyone who can contribute to a just and durable settlement on Cyprus".

    Turkish Cypriot newspapers reported that the guests included Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, the so-called "ambassador" of Turkey in the occupied areas, the military leadership, so-called "ministers", and others.

    [31] "Athens 2004" President to visit Cyprus

    NEW YORK, 15/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, President of "Athens 2004," which is responsible to organize the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, will pay a visit to Cyprus between March 7-8, at the head of a delegation.

    The announcement was made in New York by Cyprus Olympic Committee President Kikis Lazarides, who was recently elected member of the International Olympic Committee.

    Lazarides said that during their visit the president and members of "Athens 2004" will brief the Cyprus Olympic Committee on the course of the preparations for the Olympic Games and discuss the issue of voluntary work before and during the Games. Thousands of Cypriots are expected to be included in the volunteers' ranks.

    He said the campaign for enlisting volunteers will begin officially with Daskalakis' visit to the island.

    Referring to his election as member of the IOC, Lazarides said this was a great honor for him, his associates and Cyprus.

    He has already been named member of the IOC Finance Committee and expects to participate in other committees.

    Lazarides is the Executive Chairman of the Cyprus Popular Bank.

    During his stay in the United States, Lazarides visited Salt Lake City, where he watched part of the Winter Olympic Games. He also visited "Ground Zero", the place where the twin towers in New York stood before the 11th September 2002 terrorist attacks.

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