|Sunday, 15 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-02-22
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>February 22, 2002
 Gov't to seek 100 to 150 million euros in private capital for OA
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)The Greek government on Thursday said it will seek 100 to 150 million euros in private capital to keep ailing state carrier Olympic Airways (OA) flying, days after the latest privatization tender for the airline was aborted.
Additionally, separating OA’s flight operations division from other activities (ground services, catering, ticket offices etc.) and 2,000 job reductions are envisioned for the debt-ridden national carrier, a decision the transport minister stressed, however, does not spell “firings”. Another proposal reportedly calls for the break-up of OA into international and domestic carriers, with the latter including a charter service.
The announcement came after a lengthy Cabinet meeting in the Greek capital chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, with both the national economy and transport ministers stating afterwards that the government desires a “new OA ... a Greek air carrier serving Greek, European as well as regional needs...”
National Economy Minister Nikos Christodou-lakis said the consultant for OA's sale, Credit Suisse First Boston, will seek to attract private capital for the air carrier. He also cited a goal of transferring majority control of OA with the state share's at no more than 49 percent.
On his part, Transport Minister Christos Verelis said support by OA's employees is paramount to pulling off a comprehensive reorganization of the state-run airline, whose losses run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
He added that the government's twin goal is to shape a "new OA" able to survive in the long term as well as to serve the country's tourism industry and 'strategic' air routes.
Thursday's development follows last week's announcement that the Australia-based consortium - Integrated Airline Solutions (IAS) -- with the reputed addition of a major Greek business concern of late, failed to cover monetary guarantees demanded by the Greek government for the tender to proceed.
True to its EU-wide policy on air transports, the European Commission has warned Athens against allocating more money for the troubled airline.
Opposition parties blast gov't over policy for ailing national carrier: The main opposition New Democracy party on Thursday accused the government of mismanaging Olympic Airways for nearly a decade with a fresh restructuring plan announced earlier in the day triggering the criticism.
"How can the architects of the previous failed revitalization plans, which led to a complete decline in Olympic, now succeed in effecting a financial revitalization," ND media spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos told reporters.
"Where did one trillion drachmas go that were squandered over the last eight years in so-called revitalization programs," Roussopoulos asked.
Under the government's latest restructuring plan, which was announced after a failed tender to privatize the indebted airline, OA's flight operations would be housed under a new company to replace Olympic Airways, Olympic Aviation and Macedonian Lines.
The majority of the new company's share capital would be sought from the private sector at home and abroad with the state owning a minority.
The airline's other operations would gradually be privatized over two years.
The Coalition of the Left and Progress claimed in a statement that the government was a slave to privatization, with the division of Olympic's operations aimed at satisfying vested interests.
 FM Papandreou to visit Poland Friday, Lithuania
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou will pay a working visit to Warsaw on Friday. The agenda of the talks will include Greece-Poland bilateral relations, Poland's accession course to the Euroatlantic institutions, developments in the Balkans, the Cyprus issue and the combatting of international terrorism.
According to Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis, Papandreou will meet President Aleksander Kwasniewski, Prime Minister Leszek Miller and his counterpart Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz.
After his visit to Poland, the Greek foreign minister will visit Lithuania where he will meet with President Valdas Adamkus, Prime Minister Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas and his counterpart Antanas Valionis. It is expected that bilateral relations and Lithuania's EU accession course to the European Union will be discussed at these talks.
 Attempt to distort image of reality underway, PM says
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)An attempt to distort and demolish the achievements made by the government and Greek people and present a false image of insurmountable problems was currently underway, Prime Minister Costas Simitis told a meeting of the cabinet on Thursday.
Government spokesman Christos Protopapas said the prime minister's opening remarks had referred to "the exercise of nihilistic criticism that exaggerates to the utmost negative phenomena of minor significance and describes with great detail supposed impasses."
According to Simitis, the image thus painted was not true.
"There are no easy roads in our times and if a society is to go forward it must look at things honestly and truthfully. All these years we have exercised our policy without trying to 'dress-up' realities and the Greek people have believed in us. For this reason, no one will be carried away by the distorting lenses and twisted images, which often have obvious motives," Simitis said.
Asked to clarify the prime minister's statements, Protopapas noted that the warnings of attacks on government ministers for actions that were purportedly linked to corruption and graft "obviously serve political interests".
According to the spokesman, a sordid image was arising in certain TV channels as they attempted to fabricate reality. "Yesterday we saw a dramatized scene in which two members of the government were presented as guilty. We have lost all sense of journalistic ethics and decency, given that there was no story."
If any evidence against ministers existed, he added, anyone was free to submit this to a public prosecutor. They were not free to invent guilty parties and 'throw them to the lions', he added.
These symptoms were becoming greater and more widespread in the framework of competitiveness, he concluded, and we are now seeing the competition between financial interests transferred to the political sphere.
 'Climate of stench' overshadowing political life, President says
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)A "climate of stench" was overshadowing the country's political life, President Costis Stephanopoulos said late Thursday during a visit to the northern town of Ioannina.
"Today, a climate of stench covers the political life of the country. We are not all doing our duty in the required manner," the President said, responding to a toast by the town's mayor during a banquet in Stephanopoulos' honor.
"The government at this time is fulfilling its obligation that there be stricter laws which do not just simply prosecute but also quell the desire to infringe upon the laws, every action that disrupts the calm political life and social tranquility," the President added.
After the government, he continued, "come the prosecution and police authorities, which are obliged to step in without delay, without tolerance, without intent of austereness, but with the intent of legality, without abandoning any instance that comes to their knowledge".
The President further referred to the role of the media, noting that "television, and the mass media in general, are called on to play their own role, and I believe that in a way they do fulfill that role. But (the media) alter that role, trying to implicate politicians in activities that are naturally condemnable, but which do not require the presence of politicians to attract the attention of the public. Television commits this mistake, and it should curtail this activity to the degree required by duty, so that we may overcome this period" which, he said, was not conducive to "development, improvement and betterment of our roles in life".
"And we the ordinary citizens should not get carried away so easily but rather also have the duty of the citizen and think about what we do and say and how we act, in such a way that all together, and through the fulfillment of our obligations, we will overcome this period, which is not the best in our political life," the President said.
Meanwhile, foreign minister George Papandreou declined comment on the President's statement when asked by the press, adding that the president and prime minister had discussed the matter and therefore there was no need for the foreign minister to intercede in that discussion.
Papandreou is due to call on the President in the evening, together with an inter-party group comprising ruling PASOK Europarliament deputy Anna Karamanou, main opposition New Democracy MP Sophia Kalantzakou, and Coalition of the Left and Progress (SYN) MP Maria Damanaki.
 President signs Proclamation for the Olympic Truce
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, upon his return from Ioannina, on Thursday night signed the Proclamation for the Olympic Truce, which was presented to him by Foreign Minister George Papandreou.
The proclamation has been signed by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, heads of states and prime ministers as well as by parliament presidents of various countries.
The International Olympic Committee on July 2000 founded the International Olympic Truce Center, which is a non-government organization, aimed at promoting the maintenance of the Olympic Truce in all the future Olympic Games. International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge is the president of the International Center and Papandreou is its vice-president.
 G. Papandreou: 'Historic opportunity' for Cyprus solution is now
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)Greece's foreign minister on Thursday reiterated that a "historic opportunity" currently exists for a solution to the long-standing Cyprus problem - for decades a substantial obstacle to fully normalizing Greek-Turkish relations.
Greek FM George Papandreou added, however, that only a necessary "political will" by all sides would achieve such a resolution in light of the divided island republic's bright EU accession prospects.
"The Greek side has shown such a (political) volition. Now it's up to the Turkish side for the necessary political volition to solve the Cyprus problem, and, of course, according to the European acquis communautaire and resolutions by the United Nations," he said at a joint press conference in the Greek capital with the visiting government spokesman of Cyprus, Mihalis Papapetrou.
On his part, Papapetrou emphasized the time factor apparently weighing on the T/C side towards achieving a resolution prior to the island republic's projected European Union entry - an unprecedented milestone in the island's history. He also termed the policy followed by both Nicosia and Athens in the present phase as "correct", noting that for the first time the Turkish side is faced with "distinct dilemmas".
The Cypriot spokesman added: "... and that's why for the first time the 'time factor' ceases to be an element that holds our side hostage, but rather, now creates problems for the Turkish side. Therefore, since these negotiations have begun it's clear that they have a specific time frame.
"I would like with this opportunity to express an appeal to the other side to comprehend that 35 days have already passed without any spectacular results," he said, referring to the recently jumpstarted direct talks between the two sides on the island republic.
Roughly one-third of Cyprus' territory is occupied by the Turkish military, whereas the free areas under the government's control rank as a frontrunner for EU accession in the next wave of expansion.
 Clerides confirmed minimal progress of Cyprus talks, PM tells cabinet
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides has confirmed that mini-mal progress was made in the first round of face-to-face talks with the Turkish Cypriot side, while a planned visit by Clerides to Athens has been postponed until the end of March, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Thursday.
The spokesman said that Prime Minister Costas Simitis briefed the cabinet on Thursday about a phone conversation between himself and Clerides the previous day regarding the talks on the Cyprus problem and Clerides had confirmed that Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash had not changed his positions, with only minimal shifts of minor importance.
The Greek prime minister apparently told his ministers that this was "disappointing" and seemed to indicate that Denktash's participation in the talks was merely a tactical move on the Turkish side.
This was also confirmed by the contents of a letter sent by Turkish foreign minister Ismail Cem and the reactions this prompted among the countries of the European Union, the spokesman added.
During the second round of talks due to start on March 1, there would be an effort to confirm the framework presented by the United Nations, Protopapas said.
Such a development would remind Denktash that the talks between the two communities were taking place under UN auspices, he noted.
During the phone conversation, the two men had also agreed to postpone a planned visit by the Cyprus president to Athens until the end of March, given that there were no significant developments in the Cyprus issue.
Cyprus issue discussed at Zappeion Mansion event: The Cyprus issue and its various aspects, as well as Cyprus's bid for European Union membership, were discussed at an event organized at the Zappeion Mansion by the Leftist Renewal and Modernizing Movement (AEKA) on Thursday night.
Mihalis Papapetrou, Cyprus's government spokesman and Deputy President of the Cypriot "United Democrats" party, was the main speaker at the event.
He said a solution to the Cyprus issue is passing through its most difficult phase, adding that the great milestone, which changed events and freed the Republic of Cyprus from the bonds of Turkish intransigence, was the EU's Helsinki summit.
Papapetrou further said that Ankara is currently sounding out the reactions of the EU and pointed out that the message Turkey will receive from the EU and the United States is of great importance. If it is firm, he added, then Ankara will think about it and one can be reservedly optimistic.
Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis said one is faced with a vague and unstable scene on which assessments vary from optimistic to pessimistic.
Giannitsis also said that if a solution is not found in 2002, then it will be unknown when a new opportunity will arise. All will benefit from a solution to the Cyprus issue, he added, but a solution should not be achieved by chance.
Referring to negotiations between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, AEKA chief Nikos Bistis said if they fail it should be the fault of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and Ankara and this should be self-evident for European public opinion and the political leaderships of EU countries.
 Gov't opts for video arcades ban in wake of gambling furor
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)The government on Thursday said it will outlaw "all forms" of video games from public places in a bid to eradicate scores of video arcades-turned-gambling parlors throughout Greece, following a vociferous month-long national furor over rampant illegal gambling that continues to cause political reverberations.
"We're abolishing all forms of video games from public areas and establishments. A necessary legal provision (to implement the directive) will be tabled in Parliament in the next 15 days," Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis said after a highly anticipated Cabinet meeting on Thursday.
The issue of illegal 'video slot machines' was thrust onto the national limelight late last month on the heels of an expose by high-profile TV investigative journalist Makis Triantafyllopoulos, who aired prime-time footage showing one Patra-area deputy - Alekos Chrysanthakopou-los, who at the time headed up Parliament's relevant gaming committee - playing on such a device.
Chrysanthakopoulos was later expelled from ruling PASOK's Parliament group over the affair.
Subsequent press focus on other regions - Kalamata, Yiannitsa, Ioannina, the greater Athens area, etc - followed, with a handful of ministers, deputies - from both major parties - and local government officials linked to individuals controlling numerous such illegal gambling 'arcades'.
The government added that it opted for a universal ban of video games instead of stiffer fines for violations in order to avoid giving proprietors any future "loopholes" for turning video games into electronic slot machines and "one-armed bandits" -- widely known in the country now as 'froutakia', Greek for "little fruit"
 ND leader refers to Egnatia highway on Epirus tour
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis, currently on a tour of Epirus, northern Greece, said that "the Egnatia highway, even though it is a project of national importance, unfortunately is proceeding at a very slow pace".
He noted that in September 1997, Prime Minister Costas Simitis had committed himself that the Egnatia highway would be ready by 2000. "At the present pace, it will not be ready before the end of the decade," Karamanlis said, adding that "its cost has tripled and has exceeded one trillion drachmas."
 Main opposition slams corruption, chaos in Greek prisons
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)The chaotic state of Greece's prisons was raised in Parliament on Thursday by main opposition New Democracy MP Yiannis Varvitsiotis, following the deaths and possible murder of two inmates, Konstantin Papa and Theodoros Grigorakos.
In a question put to Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos, Varvitsiotis said the landmark film 'Midnight Express' paled in comparison to the phenomena seen in Greek correctional institutions, "where gangs rule the roost and govern the prisons unhindered, with the tolerance of prison staff".
Varvitsiotis also mentioned the revelations made by a young convict in the prisons of Alikarnassos, who claimed to have been sexually harassed by two inmates serving life sentences, who also forced him to act as their servant.
"It is not possible that the prison staff had neither seen or heard anything," Varvitsiotis said. "We cannot accept that prison guards are nothing more than traffic wardens for crimes."
Responding to the MP, Petsalnikos denied there had been 28 murders as claimed by Varvitsiotis, saying the number of proven murders in Greek prisons over the past 12 years were no more than three, while the percentage of suicides in Greek prisons was among the lowest in the European Union.
The minister attributed the increasing problems in Greek prisons to a rapid increase in the prison population, which at 8563 inmates was now almost double its size in 1990. Foreign nationals now made up 45 per cent of prisoners, he added, while he also noted the massive increase in prisoners held at the Athens facility of Korydallos, which had risen from 795 in 1989 to 2174 at present.
He said the government had taken measures for the immediate improvement of prison conditions and to combat corruption, while a program for the construction of 17 new prison facilities and three detox centers by 2006 was currently underway.
Petsalnikos said that inquests into the deaths of both Papa and Grigorakos had been ordered to discover if prison officers or staff were in any way responsible for their deaths.
Papa, who faced charges of multiple armed robberies and was a suspected accomplice of the notorious escaped convict Costas Passaris, was found hanged in his cell soon after his arrest and is believed to have been killed by two other inmates.
Grigorakos, 28, died on his way to hospital after being found in his cell in a comatose state. A coroner said his death was the result of a pulmonary oedema and that he had consumed large quantities of alcohol prior to his death.
 European Commission notes high level of economic growth
BRUSSELS, 22/02/2002 (ANA - V. Demiris)The European Commission on Thursday ratified the annual report on economic policy orientations in 2001 which contains positive assessments on high growth rates concerning the Greek economy in 2001.
The report said this was achieved despite the overall economic slowdown prevailing and also urges the swift reforming of the social security and pensioning system and a speedup in decreasing the public debt, as well as in structural reforms.
The European Commission mentions that economic growth rates in Greece were in the region of 4 percent in 2001, despite the economic slowdown prevailing in Europe. High growth rates are expected to continue in 2002 and exceed 3 percent.
According to the European Commission, the main source of growth is the increase in domestic demand as a result of investments taking place to prepare the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and of considerable economic backing by structural funds.
"Investments carried out to prepare the 2004 Olympic Games are among the main factors in resistance shown to economic recession by the Greek economy," the European Commission said.
"The increase in employment and the decrease in unemployment prove that the situation in the labor market has improved, although the unemployment rate exceeds 10 percent," it added.
Generally speaking, the European Commission ascertains that Greece presented an improvement in the implementation of general economic policy orientations in 2001.
Fiscal policy is considered successful since deficits were eliminated for the first time since 1970, while the public debt continued to decrease for the fifth consecutive year.
Moreover, for the first time it is below 100 percent of GDP (99.8 percent). However, its rates are slower than those initially assessed and it continues to remain considerably higher than the 60 percent level set in the Copenhagen summit's economic criteria.
In addition, inflationary pressures appearing until the summer of 2001, as a result of oil price increases, resulted in inflation reaching 3.6 percent.
The European Commission further points out that privatizations of public enterprises continued, but at rates which should be speeded up. On the question of social security system reforms, announced in the Greek economy's stabilization program, it is noted that no progress was achieved during 2001 and the immediate tackling of the problem is recommended.
Referring to the labor market, the European Commission's report underlines the progress achieved in Greece in 2001 with the taking of a series of structural measures, such as changes in the deductions and benefits system and a speedup in their implementation is urged.
The European Commission believes that the Greek economy will have to face three main challenges in the years to come.
The need to continue positive results in public finances, with emphasis on speeding up the decrease in the public debt and the immediate handling of the social security system, taking into consideration the problem posed by an ageing population.
The need to improve low productivity linked to the operation of labor and products markets, limited investments in human potential and the unfavorable business environment with the unfavorable taxation status governing companies.
The need to tackle the high percentage of structural unemployment, as well as the need to increase employment percentages, particularly among women.
EU cites lack of Greek jobless data BRUSSELS, 22/02/2002 (ANA - M. Spinthou-rakis)
The European Union's economic affairs commissioner, Pedro Solbes, said that Greek jobless data was not included in country unemployment tables released for the 15-nation bloc as the source was inadequate.
The commissioner was replying to a question submitted by a Greek eurodeputy, Yiannis Marinos of the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, asking why Greek data had failed to appear for the two last years in the tables, which are produced by Eurostat, the EU's statistics agency.
Solbes told Marinos in a written reply released by ND that under EU rules, Eurostat's jobless data was calculated on the basis of two sources: quarterly survey results of the labor force and a monthly index, which was usually the number of unemployed registered at state employment agencies.
Solbes said that the last acceptable Greek data covered the first quarter of 1998 until the second quarter of 2000.
"On the one hand, the registrations at state employment agencies do not make for a reliable index on the level of unemployment in Greece. On the other, there is no other monthly index available," ND quoted Solbes as saying.
 Development minister in talks with Turkey, Iran on natural gas supplies
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos is to visit Turkey on February 28-29 for talks with the neighboring country's energy minister on plans for a natural gas pipeline to be built between Alexandroupolis and Ankara.
The minister also told a news conference on Thursday that he was due to visit Tehran to sound out cooperation in natural gas supplies from Iran on a transit basis.
 Labor ministry examines national action plan on employment
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)A meeting held at the labor ministry on Thursday focused on the preparation of the national action plan on employment (ESDA) for the current year.
It was decided that an account on the implementation of ESDA in 2001 be completed immediately and the process of preparing the new national plan be speeded up. Its framework will be brought to the attention of social partners in mid-March to enable them to make their observations and proposals.
The meeting was attended by Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas, Deputy Labor Minister Lefteris Tziolas, the coordinator of the group preparing ESDA Antigone Lymberopoulou, Expert Council President George Sakkelis and senior ministry officials.
 Employers and labor unions hold inconclusive talks
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)The second meeting between the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and employers unions on Thursday, on the signing of a new collective labor agreement, ended in deadlock after GSEE rejected an offer for 4.5 percent wage increases and a three-year agreement.
GSEE President Christos Polyzogopoulos said unions cannot accept wage increases of less than 6 percent and want a 39-hour workweek implemented when the agreement is validated.
Employers unions, on the other hand, accepted the demand for a reduction in work time to 39 hours a week, but added that the 39-hour system should begin being implemented as of 2004.
Negotiations will be resumed on March 11.
 Labor minister meets striking IKA doctors
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas met on Thursday with Social Security Foundation (IKA) doctors who are on strike in demand of higher salaries and the permanent employment status of 5,500 temporary colleagues.
Also present at the meeting was Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) President Spyros Papaspyrou.
Reppas stated after the meeting that the government has committed itself on the economic aspect, while on the issue of the permanency of the temporary staff he noted that the government proposed the setting up of a mixed committee to deal with the matter.
Reppas also noted that doctors employed by IKA must work exclusively there and not have a private practice as well.
The labor minister said that in the event the doctors' strike is not called off, the government will continue to show goodwill through dialogue.
The IKA doctors said on Thursday they will continue their strike action and will proceed with a new five-day strike on dates to be decided by their federation.
 Alpha Bank shows lower consolidated profit in 2001
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)Alpha Bank, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, on Thursday reported that the group's consolidated earnings before tax and after minorities in 2001 fell by 7.8 percent to 344 million euros against a year earlier.
The parent operation, the country's second largest commercial bank, showed a 10 percent rise in pre-tax profits to 347 million euros last year, private sector Alpha said in a statement.
Management is to propose to shareholders a dividend on earnings in 2001 of 310 drachmas per share (0.91 euro), the same as in 1999, the statement said.
Management was satisfied with results for 2001 as the year was characterized by a major decline in interest rates, volatility in global markets, and a weak performance by the Athens Stock Exchange for the second straight year, the statement added.
 Labor health and security framework to be modernized
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)Deputy Labor Minister Lefteris Tziolas chaired a meeting on Thursday, which decided to modernize the existing legislative framework on labor hygiene and security.
Amendments to be made will be promoted after a social dialogue is held with social partners.
Among others, the amendments will concern the reassessment of businesses in risk categories in accordance with the statistical classification of economic activity branches in 1991.
In addition, they will also concern the possibility of employers at medium-risk businesses assuming the duties of security technicians and solving practical problems arising from the implementation of laws.
 Greek businessman persecuted, SEB says
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)"The Greek businessman is being persecuted," the chairman of Greek Industries' Union (SEB), Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, said on Thursday commenting on how recent judicial developments would affect business climate in the country.
Kyriakopoulos said that Greece does not want to help business activity with the way it should and urged that "we must leave the market to operate."
His comments were made during a visit by SEB's presidium at Intracom's facilities in Paeania. Commenting on a series of indictments against Intracom's chairman Socrates Kokkalis, Mr. Kyriakopoulos said that "the issue is in the hands of justice."
 Greece expects 6-7 pct rise in tourist arrivals from Italy
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)Tourist arrivals from Italy to Greece are expected to increase by 6-7% this year from 2001, to more than 800,000 from 777,000, respectively, according to forecasts by Greek tourism authorities on Thursday.
The forecast was based on contacts made by Deputy Development Minister Dimitris Georgakopoulos and Greek Tourism Organization’s (GNTO) president Yiannis Patelis, during the annual tourist fair BIT in Milan.
Italian tourists' interest was focusing on specialized forms of tourism, Patelis said and announced, in coordination with the country's merchant and Aegean ministries and with Italian tourist authorities, a plan to promote "Ulysses' Travel" (www.ulysses-ports.com), a sea route including several Greek islands.
GNTO also plans to create multicultural parks in the Ionian islands (Corfu, Zakynthos, Cephalonia), to promote the development of painting in Greece, Italy and Croatia, along with a travel route "In the footsteps of Apostle Paul".
 Greek stocks remain under pressure in ASE
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)Equity prices remained under pressure with market sentiment undermined by political confrontations, talk of early elections and worries over the impact of an indictment against Greek businessman Socrates Kokkalis.
Buying interest is almost minimal in recent sessions, pushing the general index 0.63 percent lower at 2,394.16 points, below the 2,400 support level for the first time in months.
Turnover was a low Dr 33.1 billion, or 97.1 million euros.
The Wholesale, Publications and IT sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (1.65 percent, 1.41 percent and 1.10 percent, respectively), while the Cement, Investment and Food-Beverage sectors scored gains (0.71 percent, 0.47 percent and 0.03 percent).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.57 percent lower, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 0.56 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index fell 0.35 percent.
Kokkalis Group's companies came under renewed pressure to end lower. Intracom fell 7.04 percent, Intracat dropped 5.12 percent, Panafon ended 2.11 percent lower and Intralot fell 0.22 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 194 to 107 with another 54 issues unchanged.
The most heavily traded shares were Intracom, Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, Panafon and Alpha Bank.
Equity index futures into the red: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange dropped on Thursday tracking their underlying indices. Contracts ended at discount, shedding an early premium, traders said.
Turnover was higher at 37.1 million euros.
The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips shed 0.57 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks lost 0.56 percent.
Bond prices drop in light to moderate trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Thursday finished lower in light to moderate trade focusing on 10-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.35 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 34 basis points.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 1.6 billion euros.
Sell orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.
 Stephanopoulos attends liberation anniversary parade in Ioannina
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Thursday attended celebrations marking the 89th anniversary since the liberation of Ioannina from Ottoman rule.
"It is a very important day, an anniversary that is a landmark in our recent history" Stephanopoulos said after watching a parade by students, scouts, veterans of war and sections of the armed forces and police in the northern Greek city.
Also presiding over the celebrations was main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis, who afterward stressed the need for a unified foreign policy by all political parties in Greece and a clear, strong voice in world affairs that would allow Greece to defend its rights and interests.
Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou represented the government.
 Concert dedicated to women refugees in Athens on March 10
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)A concert dedicated to women refugees and featuring works by composer Yiannis Markopoulos is to be held at the Athens Concert Hall on March 10.
The event is taking place under the auspices of Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who said on Thursday that Greece had a duty to show sensitivity to refugee issues, as one of the main countries in the Balkan peninsula that refugees headed for.
The year 2002 is dedicated to women refugees, statistically the chief victims of violence.
 Expatriate Greek woman's contribution plan announced
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis on Thursday announced a plan of action on highlighting the contribution of the expatriate Greek woman.
The event was held at the foreign ministry's amphitheatre in the presence of Equality secretary general Efi Bekou, Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Andrew Athens and women's organizations.
Andrew Athens said events will be taking place in the framework of the proposal made by the SAE's 4th assembly, and adopted by the foreign ministry, to have 2002 proclaimed the year of the expatriate Greek woman.
Magriotis said they will be held in Athens in May, in Thessaloniki at the end of the year and in parliament, as well as in the four continents.
 Doping control laboratory equipment at Olympic Stadium
Athens, 22/02/2002 (ANA)Culture Deputy Minister Yiannis Kourakis, responsible for sports issues, has asked for a tender for the supply of new equipment, which will upgrade the structures of the doping control laboratory at the Athens Olympic Stadium.
The international tender will be held on April 12, 2002.
The new equipment, amounting to 1,760,860 euro, will be placed at the new building of the internationally recognized laboratory, which will be completed in December of this year.
Kourakis will be in Thessaloniki from Friday to Sunday where he will take part in the meeting of Culture and Sports Ministers of eastern European countries.
 Kasoulides discusses EU issues in Malta
NICOSIA, 22/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus' and Malta's bid to join the EU was the core issue Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides discussed on Thursday in Malta with high-level government and other officials.
Speaking to CNA, Kasoulides said the main point of interest in Malta is the importance of Cyprus and Malta's accession to the EU, as two small states. He also said that during his meeting with the President of Malta Guido de Marco he conveyed to him a message from Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides. He added that Marco will pay an official visit to Cyprus, but the dates of the visit have not yet been decided.
He also met with the Maltese Prime Minister Edward Fenech Adami, with whom he discussed both countries' EU accession course.
He also had talks with his Maltese counterpart Joseph Borg and met the leader of the opposition, former Prime Minister Alfrent Sant.
On Friday Kasoulides will meet with the Speaker of Malta's parliament Anton Tabone.
 Israeli firm wins contract for Cyprus radar system
NICOSIA, 22/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)The Cyprus Central Tenders Board has awarded to the Israeli firm IAI ELTA Electronics Industries the contract to supply the island with a coastal radar system, according to an official announcement issued in Nicosia.
According to press reports there were five bidders, including Russian and French companies.
The government of Cyprus has ordered the radar system to assist the marine police to intercept illegal immigrants trying to land on the island.