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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-03-01

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

March 1, 2002


  • [01] Premier, EU Commissioner Diamantopoulou address equal opportunities conference
  • [02] Olympic Truce signed by Swiss FM after meeting with Papandreou
  • [03] British and Greek PMs discuss EU Barcelona summit by phone
  • [04] Deputy FM begins two-day visit to London
  • [05] EU Convention hold initial session, to prepare Europe's future
  • [06] Plaskovitis represents Greece at EU meeting in Spain
  • [07] Council of justice ministers convenes in Brussels
  • [08] ND leader backs proposal to open Kokkalis' accounts
  • [09] Draft bill on Balkan reconstruction funding
  • [10] Bill on draft-evaders' status, military deferments unveiled
  • [11] Skandalidis meets with PASOK candidate for Athens
  • [12] President receives Synaspismos leader
  • [13] European network of Greek women journalists holds conference
  • [14] Finance ministry to issue commemorative gold drachma series
  • [15] Budget revenues exceed target in January
  • [16] Black economy in Greece the highest among 21 OECD states
  • [17] Athens, Tel-Aviv, Cyprus bourses discuss cooperation
  • [18] Greece, FYROM bourses to see dual listing
  • [19] Greece seeks 10-year strategy for tourism
  • [20] Govít approves 146.3 mln euros for railway projects
  • [21] Air Traffic Controllers call off Thursday's work stoppage
  • [22] Australian union accuses Greek shipping line of exploiting seamen
  • [23] Hellenic Stock Exchanges shows profit in 2001
  • [24] Greek stocks end sharply lower on Thursday
  • [25] Exhibition on Greek culture opens in Berlin
  • [26] UN Cyprus envoy hopes pace of peace process will step up
  • [27] Javier Solana hopes for positive outcome in Cyprus peace talks
  • [28] EU pleased with the implementation of the acquis in Cyprus
  • [29] Attorney General: radical change of Turkish views needed for progress

  • [01] Premier, EU Commissioner Diamantopoulou address equal opportunities conference

    Athens, 01/03/2002 (ANA)

    "The woman who fights to eliminate discrimination and for equality is our natural ally against all forms of retrogression," Prime Minister Costas Simitis said Thursday, opening a conference on equal opportunities for men and women in the Third Community Support Framework (CSF).

    Indirectly referring to recent political developments, the premier warned that the opponent of a strong society were "the policy of irresponsibility, of hypocrisy and self-interest", and the "pockets of conservatism and reaction that remain active in society, inside and outside the political life".

    "The opponent to a strong society is all that we have pushed into the margins in order to bring Greece out of the mire of old party politics and give it a new national self-confidence," he added.

    He said that a strong society of peace, growth, humaneness and cohesion was the core of a "new rallying of all the progressive citizens, all the progressive agencies, all the progressive women from all the political parties, from all age groups, and from all over Greece".

    Simitis noted that "the Greece of the euro, the Greece of the Olympic efforts, the Greece of visions, calls us to back clear-cut solutions everywhere, progressive reforms everywhere".

    He added that the government was living up to the Constitutional demand that "the State must see to lift inequalities against women where they exist in action" with a clear-cut and distinct progressive policy to bring equality to all areas of civil action.

    This included ensuring equality of participation of men and women in the professional hierarchy, assumption of posts, management and responsibility; in the framework of reforming the social security system, placing emphasis on regulations that would truly recognize the particular role and burdens shouldered by a mother; and placing emphasis on special measures for women belonging to sensitive social groups such as gypsies, Moslems, immigrants, the mothers in single-parent families, whom he said suffered multiple discrimination and were unable to voice protests and demands.

    EU commissioner for employment and social affairs Anna Diamantopoulou said that "issues of incorporating the gender and equality dimensions are now being treated seriously" in Greece, noting that this meant effecting actual changes "in the real world and not only in theory".

    She said the proportion of employed women was smaller and unemployed women was larger vis-a-vis the male population, noting that the employment rate of women was 30 percentage points lower than for men, while the unemployment percentage for women was nearly double.

    Diamantopoulou further noted differences in remuneration, noting that at EU level women earned just more than 70 percent of what men earned for equal work.

    The EU, she said, reaffirms its full commitment to promote the incorporation of the gender dimension, and one of its targets was to raise the proportion of employment among women to 60 percent by 2010.

    For Greece, this target meant an increase in employment among women by nearly 20 percentage points.

    Turning to matter of funds, Diamantopoulou said that in the present period more than 4 billion euro were being channeled to measures for incorporating the gender dimension.

    Labor and social security minister Dimitris Reppas told the same conference that 11.4 percent of the resources of the European Social Fund had been earmarked for actions concerning equal opportunities for women.

    He added that the government's target was to have created 1,600 new units by 2007, of which 1,260 would be help-at-home units and another 340 would be daycare centers and creative occupation centers for children.

    These programs, budgeted at 85 billion dr., would create some 8,000 new jobs, which would benefit chiefly women, he continued.

    National economy undersecretary Christos Pachtas noted that three requirements for achieving equal opportunities existed today, for the first time: the issue was ripe at social level, the necessary political will undoubtedly existed at both EU and national level, and funds were also available.

    Gov't spokesman on municipal elections, PM: The government spokesman on Thursday said the prime minister's same-day message regarding equality at a conference on gender discrimination and following a session of the ruling party's executive bureau a day earlier was also aimed at PASOK's cadres,

    Additionally, asked by reporters if a leadership issue could prop up for PASOK in case the party loses the majority of local government races in October's municipal and prefectural elections, spokesman Christos Protopapas stressed that PM Costas Simitis has been elected to the party's helm for three years, and that "no one in the ruling party is dealing with such scenarios".

    [02] Olympic Truce signed by Swiss FM after meeting with Papandreou

    BERNE, 01/03/2002 (ANA - E. Boukaouri)

    Greece's European Union presidency in 2003 and bilateral relations were the main topics discussed by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Swiss counterpart Joseph Deiss on Thursday, during Papandreou's visit to Switzerland.

    During the meeting, the Swiss foreign minister also signed a Greek proposal for an Olympic Truce.

    Earlier, the Greek minister had been received by Swiss president Kasper Villiger, followed by a short one-on-one meeting with Deiss and then a longer meeting in the presence of both ministers and delegations from both sides.

    Commenting afterward, Papandreou said that the Olympic Truce proposal had been signed by many influential individuals and by countries that wanted to support the truce, a fundamental idea of the ancient Olympic Games.

    "We start with a vision and hope that it will become reality. If peace, the ideal of the Olympic Games, can last for 14 days then why should it not last forever," Papandreou noted.

    Deiss noted that Papandreou's visit to Berne was an opportunity to confirm excellent relations and important in view of Greece's upcoming EU presidency.

    "We presented our policies for bilateral relations with the EU and with Greece and we hope that Athens will contribute to the success of our negotiations with the '15'," Weiss said.

    Switzerland has a keen interest in the EU, since it is now toying with the idea of abandoning its traditional neutrality in favor of a more active international role, in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks in the US.

    It has already signed a package of economic agreements with the EU and is now interested in joining the Schengen Treaty, in exchange for which Brussels is asking that Switzerland lift strict privacy laws on bank accounts and taxation of deposits.

    Papandreou praised excellent relations between Greece and Switzerland, while noting that Switzerland would make a valuable addition to the Community due to its experience with a system of direct democracy and in operating as a federation.

    Finally, the Greek minister referred to the common presence of Greece, Switzerland and Russia in Kosovo and the successful humanitarian aid effort in the region, while he also noted Switzerland's contribution to the economic restructure of the Balkans and Europe and hailed its efforts for peace on Cyprus.

    [03] British and Greek PMs discuss EU Barcelona summit by phone

    Athens, 01/03/2002 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis received a telephone call from his British counterpart Tony Blair on Thursday and, according to government sources, discussed the agenda of the Europe-an Union's summit in Barcelona, Spain, as well as issues concerning bilateral relations between the two countries.

    The sources also said that Blair announced to Simitis that his Deputy Foreign Minister Baroness Simons will be visiting Athens on March 12, two days before the summit begins, as his personal envoy.

    [04] Deputy FM begins two-day visit to London

    Athens, 01/03/2002 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis began a two-day visit to London on Thursday to meet Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Great Britain Gregory, community leaders, the British Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece and to project volunteerism among the Greek community for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

    A luncheon was given in honor of Magriotis by Greek Ambassador to London A. Sandis and was attended by representatives of the Greek community, the Greek educational community and the Greek Shipping Cooperation Community.

    The deputy foreign minister also met Archbishop Gregory and the presidents of Greek community associations.

    Magriotis was the main speaker on Thursday evening at an event held at the Greek Center in London on the theme "Olympic spirit and volunteerism by youth".

    On Friday, he will meet with the British Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles and will visit Greek schools.

    Magriotis will also meet with the Greek Students Union, World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) Vice-President H. Sofoklidis and the Executive Council of the National Cypriot Federation.

    [05] EU Convention hold initial session, to prepare Europe's future

    BRUSSELS, 01/03/2002 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    The aim of the European Convention for the future of Europe is the "joint confrontation of the needs of different people, who come from different countries and belong to different cultures," former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing said on Thursday.

    D'Estaing, who is presiding over the Convention, initiated the first session, stressing to the other European Union member and candidate member states' 104 representatives, that this venture can succeed or fail, noting that its aim is to propose to the European Citizens, in a year from now, a unified proposal, which will pave the way to a European Constitution.

    "If we succeed, then the role of Europe on the international political stage will change, if we fail then each state will turn to the logic of a Europe that concerns only the market," d'Estaing said, in French, English and German.

    Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, who holds the current six month term of the rotating European Union presidency, also addressed the initial session of the Convention, saying that the Union is in need of a new operational form, stressing that its enlargement signals the reunification of the European Continent.

    The Convention is composed by 87 men and 16 women, who represent the institutions of the 15 EU member states. Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis is represented by George Katiforis, while the Greek Parliament is represented by deputies Paraskevas Avgerinos and Marianna Giannakou.

    The Convention will meet twice a week and will hold two agenda preparation meetings a month.

    [06] Plaskovitis represents Greece at EU meeting in Spain

    MADRID, 01/03/2002 (ANA)

    The Foreign Ministry's European Affairs General Secretary Ilias Plaskovitis represented Greece on Thursday at the meeting of European Union ministers and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia).

    During the discussions, Plaskovitis set out the EU's views and those of Greece on developments in the Balkans and had the opportunity to present the Greek Plan for Balkan Reconstruction.

    The Cyprus issue was also discussed and support was expressed for a unified state in Cyprus based on the UN Security Council's relevant resolutions.

    [07] Council of justice ministers convenes in Brussels

    BRUSSELS, 01/03/2002 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    The Council of Justice Ministers, held here on Thursday, examined the carrying out of decisions on freezing assets in European Union member-states, judicial cooperation between the EU and the United States and the combatting of illegal immigration.

    Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos, who supported Greek positions together with Public Order secretary general Dimitris Efstathiadis, said in his address that Greece supports efforts to organize negotiating being made by the Spanish presidency to conclude an agreement between the EU and the U.S. and stressed the need for the careful preparation of issues which could constitute an object of negotiating with the United States.

    The plan on the draft resolution on carrying out decisions to freeze assets or evidence in the EU was unanimously approved. The ministers reiterated that none of the clauses contained in the draft resolution can be interpreted in a way leading to discriminations concerning the gender, race, religion, ethnic origin, citizenship, language, political beliefs or sexual orientation of the individual.

    The Council also authorized the Presidency and the European Commission to make informal contacts of an exploratory nature with the United States before the negotiations get underway.

    [08] ND leader backs proposal to open Kokkalis' accounts

    Athens, 01/03/2002 (ANA)

    Issues of transparency and the infiltration of economic power into politics were raised once again on Thursday by main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis, during an address to a conference on tourism.

    Karamanlis also backed a proposal to open the accounts of Intracom president Socratis Kokkalis, who is currently facing multiple charges of stock market fraud and other financial crimes, originally put forward by Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos.

    The government should do everything in its power to facilitate justice in the investigation of issues concerning public life and assist so that the accounts were opened during the preliminary judicial investigation, Karamanlis said.

    The main opposition leader also referred to the "murky landscape in broadcasting" calling for this to be cleared up in accordance to the dictates of the recently revised Constitution, with full in-compatibility between media ownership and the taking out of contracts with the state sector, and for a new National Radio and Television Council to be appointed immediately.

    Other proposals made by Karamanlis during his speech included the creation of an independent administrative body to organize tenders and assign major public works, the scrapping of a law that allowed illegal contracts cancelled by courts to go ahead and a unified general framework for privatizations, instead of a separate bill for every privatization.

    He also called for greater independence for the Fair Competition Committee and the Capital Markets Commission.

    Indictments will not affect economy, govít spokesman: The government has taken all measures to ensure a smooth course in the economy and the stock market, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Thursday, commenting on recent indictments against Greek businessmen and its likely impact on the economy and the stock market.

    Mr. Protopapas noted that in these cases justice must be left alone to perform its duty and that these developments should not be linked with the general course of the economy.

    Government spokesman said indictments against two Greek businessmen (Kokkalis and Alafouzos) were not connected with the government's economy policy.

    Gov't spokesman calls on ND leader to 'stop' being justice's 'prompter': Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Thursday called on main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis "to stop pretending to be the protector and the prompter of justice".

    Commenting on Karamanlis' speech, Protopapas said "we all know very well the procedures mandated by our legal system, so there is no reason to discuss the self-evident, except in the event that we want to create impressions for petty party benefits. Let's leave justice uninfluenced to promote its investigation".

    [09] Draft bill on Balkan reconstruction funding

    Athens, 01/03/2002 (ANA)

    A draft bill detailing Greece's contribution towards economic restructuring in the Balkans cleared a relevant Parliament committee on Thursday, with only members from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) voting against the projected legislation.

    One of the controversial points in the bill, and the one that garnered the most attention, was a provision dealing with funding for non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

    On his part, former PASOK minister Yiannis Kapsis called for an audit of Greece-based NGOs and the tabling of information to a Parliament committee on transparency, while his colleague from main opposition New Democracy, Ioannis Varvitsiotis, proposed that NGOs be excluded from funding envisioned in the bill.

    Moreover, deputies Stelios Papathemelis and Kyriakos Spyriounis, both from ruling PASOK, proposed that funds slated for NGOs - around 550 million euros - be used to repatriate economic migrants from other Balkan countries and illegal immigrants now residing in Greece.

    On his part, Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos tabled a document listing the names of all registered NGOs in the country, complete with the names and other information on the groups. He added that his office is solely responsible for over-seeing funding towards these groups, while he is at the disposal of any deputy requesting more information.

    Furthermore, a proposal to include Bosnia-Herzegovina in the list of eligible countries (along with Albania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, FYROM and Romania) for funding was accepted by the committee, while a proposal by ex-deputy FM Angeliki Laiou for the direct funding of private firms in the eligible participant-countries was rejected.

    [10] Bill on draft-evaders' status, military deferments unveiled

    Athens, 01/03/2002 (ANA)

    The defense ministry on Thursday unveiled portions of a draft bill dealing with Greek citizens who fail to enlist for mandatory conscription service as well as the regime governing assorted military duty deferments.

    One of the highlights of the bill is the halving of conscription duty to six months for draft-evaders belonging to the 1986 and 1987 classes, whereas Nov. 30, 2003 is the projected deadline for the enlistment of individuals belonging to the class of 1988.

    Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, who presented the bill, said the government's intention is to allow the repatriation of a significant number of native-born Greeks -- a large portion of whom finished their university studies overseas -- who have so far avoided permanently returning to the country because they have been listed as draft-evaders.

    In other statements, Papantoniou expressed his opposition to the prospect of allowing the buying off of one's military service.

    Greek males are obliged to perform varying amounts of military duty in one of the three armed forces branches, although exceptions affect males with disabilities and in some cases expatriates that qualify for permanent overseas residence status, among others.

    According to the ministry's figures, 14,630 Greek citizens were listed as draft-evaders in 2002; up from 13,795 in 2001 and 12,686 two years ago, an growing trend that precipitated in the government searching for measures to alleviate the problem.

    Other measures envisioned in the bill include reducing the maximum age an individual can be called up for military duty from 50 to 45 years of age, as well as dropping the ban on issuing or renewing passports at Greek consulates abroad to individuals regarded as draft-evaders.

    Deferments: In terms of deferments, the draft bill foresees an increase in the age limit for individuals pursuing doctorates, up to 31 years of age from 29 -- 33 for medical specialization, up from 31.

    A clause for "distinguished scholars" allows academic deferments up to the age of 33, as well. An individual designated as a "distinguished scholar" will serve a six-month term, with a further two-month reduction possible due to family status.

    Papantoniou said this designation necessitates the acquisition of a Ph.D. from an internationally recognized university and accompanying academic research or work that will be evaluated by a committee of professors.

    Moreover, only 25 such individuals will be eligible for such a distinction every year, the minister said.

    The draft bill, ruled constitutional by the state's legal council, will be tabled in Parliament in March.

    [11] Skandalidis meets with PASOK candidate for Athens

    Athens, 01/03/2002 (ANA)

    Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis met on Thursday's with the ruling PASOK party's candidate for the municipality of Athens, Christos Papoutsis, the one-time EU Commissioner and merchant marine minister.

    On his part, Papoutsis requested that from the interior minister that municipal residents' rolls be updated "as soon as possible", something that Skandalidis said will be completed by the end of April.

    Asked about recent opinion polls showing Papoutsis trailing in a possible election match-up against high-ranking main opposition New Democracy deputy Dora Bakoyianni, the former minister said he's not running for the municipality - Greece's largest - based on his potential opponents.

    [12] President receives Synaspismos leader

    Athens, 01/03/2002 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Thursday received Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos, who afterwards said he expressed his concerns to the president over the current political situation in the country.

    Referring to what he called the two-party "polarization that's distracting people's attention from the real problems that are pending ..." Constantopoulos charged that this condition is being pursued to "hide the similar policies that the two parties have".

    [13] European network of Greek women journalists holds conference

    Athens, 01/03/2002 (ANA)

    Press Minister Christos Protopapas in an address to a conference on opportune European issues by the European Network of Greek Women Journalists, which opened in Athens on Thursday night, noted that "with concentration on healthy competition, the principles of multiformity and the multiculturalism reflected in democracy, the media should register daily life outside the profitability of journalistic life."

    In his address, conveyed by Press Ministry secretary general Dimitra Spiliopoulou, Protopapas underlined that the media reflect the reality of both the country and present-day Europe, adding that rapid technological development permits equal access for all citizens to new services being created to promote the informatics society.

    Referring to the media, he said that at a time when Europe appears to be winning the two-speed battle with the tool of unification, two conceptions continue to prevail in the media sector on reality and tomorrow.

    He further said this is apparent in a sector of the media, which is the bearer of new conceptions, and another sector, which is developing a type of information, which appears to detest progress.

    [14] Finance ministry to issue commemorative gold drachma series

    Athens, 01/03/2002 (ANA)

    The Finance Ministry announced on Thursday that it intended to issue a series of 10,000 commemorative gold drachmas after the Greek currency was finally withdrawn from circulation at the end of February.

    The gold coin will resemble the last one-drachma coin ever to circulate, with a sailing ship on one side and the head of Greek independence war heroine Bouboulina on the other.

    The coins will be made of 916.7/1000 gold and will each weigh 8.5 grams and have a diameter of 24 millimeters.

    The finance ministry announcement said the Bank of Greece would issue one golden drachma per person for the price of 230 euros. The bank would start taking orders on March 4 and would continue until the entire issue was covered.

    [15] Budget revenues exceed target in January

    Athens, 01/03/2002 (ANA)

    Greek budget revenues increased by 6.3 percent in January exceeding a budget target for an annual growth of 6.1 percent, a finance ministry report said on Thursday.

    Income tax revenues rose 4.1 percent, while value added tax revenues jumped 13.2 percent in January compared with the same month last year.

    The report showed a spectacular increase, 229.7 percent, of past financial years' revenues, while custom revenues fell 0.77 percent over the month.

    [16] Black economy in Greece the highest among 21 OECD states

    BRUSSELS, 01/03/2002 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    The size of the black economy in Greece is the highest among 21 OECD states, according to a study prepared by Linz University in Austria and publicized here by the European Commission on Thursday.

    The black economy in Greece was estimated at 22.6 percent over the 1989-1990 period, 29 percent in 1997-1998 and 28.7 percent in 1999-2000. The average for the 21 OECD countries in 1999-2000 was 16.7 percent.

    The report said increases in tax burdens and social security contributions, combined with increasing state interventionism, are the main reasons for the increase in the black economy in the OECD countries.

    [17] Athens, Tel-Aviv, Cyprus bourses discuss cooperation

    Athens, 01/03/2002 (ANA)

    The stock markets of Athens, Tel Aviv and Cyprus met with representatives of FTSE Global Index Provider, a UK company, in Athens on Thursday to discuss the cooperation between three markets and the use of a common market index of 100 shares, the FTSE Med 100 index.

    The meeting followed a first meeting held in Cyprus last August. The Casablanca Stock Market, that has also shown interest in the project, failed to send a representative to the Athens meeting.

    The four parties discussed technical issues of the new index, its main terms of composition and its operation. All parties agreed that terms must be determined soon in order to begin a promotion campaign with fund managers and securities firms operating in the four countries and other major capital markets.

    The three bourses plan to begin operating the new index by the end of the third quarter of 2002.

    They also agreed to continue efforts to attract other regional markets in the project.

    [18] Greece, FYROM bourses to see dual listing

    Athens, 01/03/2002 (ANA)

    The Athens and Skopje bourses are to sign a memorandum of cooperation on March 28 that will lead to the establishment of dual listing.

    The proposal for dual listing was made by Hellenic Stock Exchanges SA, owner of the Athens bourse and Thessaloniki stock center.

    The memorandum, which includes arranging an exchange of technical and operational know-how, will be signed in the capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

    Hellenic Stock Exchanges is considering buying a stake in the Skopje bourse.

    [19] Greece seeks 10-year strategy for tourism

    Athens, 01/03/2002 (ANA)

    The Greek government will seek a new strategy for the development of tourism with a 10-year horizon, Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Thursday.

    Addressing a seminar, organized by the Union of Greek Tourist Enterprises, Tsohatzopoulos noted a government's decision to decentralize the tourism sector by offering more responsibilities to the country's 13 regions. This move was aimed to bringing decision-making centers closer to citizens.

    He said that tourism authorities were planning a series of measures to expand tourism season in the country and to promote alternative forms of tourism in Greece.

    Tsohatzopoulos said that a planned privatization of ETA SA, a subsidiary of Greek National Tourism Organization responsible for the management of tourism assets, would facilitate a government effort to promote Greek tourism.

    He reiterated his optimism over this year's tourism season and said that "things will come better than originally anticipated."

    Tourism enterprises set targets for 2010: Industry speakers at a tourism conference said on Thursday that their target was to attain 19.4 million tourist arrivals worth 15 billion US dollars by 2010.

    Meeting the target would boost Greece's market share for Europe to 3.68 percent in 2010 from 3.0 percent in 2000; and for the world market to 1.92 percent in 2010 from 1.87 percent.

    In order to meet the rise in arrivals sought, 128,000 new rooms in accommodation were needed, the speakers said.

    Addressing the meeting, the leader of the main opposition New Democracy party, Constantine Karamanlis, told delegates that Greece lacked an integrated tourism policy.

    The conference on forging a strategy for the sector was arranged by the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises.

    [20] Govít approves 146.3 mln euros for railway projects

    Athens, 01/03/2002 (ANA)

    Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Christos Pahtas on Thursday approved inclusion of 10 projects by Hellenic Railways Organization to the government's Public Investments Program, worth 146.3 million euros (Dr 49.8 billion).

    Five of these projects were part of the construction of the Athens suburban railway, linking Athens with the new international airport at Spata.

    Speaking to reporters, Pahtas said that one of the government's main targets in the transport sector was to upgrade the countryís railway network into an ideal alternate route for urban and intercity mass transportation.

    [21] Air Traffic Controllers call off Thursday's work stoppage

    Athens, 01/03/2002 (ANA)

    International flights to and from Greece and service to local destinations will be carried out normally on Thursday after Air Traffic Controllers called off a four-hour work stoppage that was due to begin at noon.

    [22] Australian union accuses Greek shipping line of exploiting seamen

    MELBOURNE, 01/03/2002 (ANA - S. Hatzimanolis)

    Allegations by the Australian Dockworkers Union that Filipino seamen aboard the Greek-owned ship "ANL Progress" were being exploited may be raised within the Australian Parliament, an ANA dispatch from Melbourne said on Thursday.

    According to the union, conditions on board the Cyprus-flagged ship were appalling and the ship has been placed on the union's blacklist.

    The seamen on the ANL Progress complained to the union about poor conditions and said that they were being paid less than the amount stated in their contracts, which they were forced to sign or risk being fired.

    The crew also said that the Greek shipping company Primera Maritime Hellas had ignored their complaints and threatened to dismiss three sailors as troublemakers.

    The ship operates the Australia-New Zealand shipping line, while federal senator Barney Cooney who inspected the vessel said he would raise the issue in the Australian Parliament and that it was "unacceptable for such ships to dock at Australian ports".

    [23] Hellenic Stock Exchanges shows profit in 2001

    Athens, 01/03/2002 (ANA)

    Hellenic Stock Exchanges SA, the quoted owner of the Athens Stock Exchange and affiliated markets, on Thurs-day reported net earnings after tax in 2001 of 47.954 million euros and consolidated profits before tax and minorities of 28.801 million euros.

    In Hellenic's first balance sheet, consolidated net earnings before tax and after minorities totalled 25.579 million euros and consolidated turnover was 78.897 million euros, the company said in a statement.

    Management is to propose to shareholders a dividend per share on 2001 earnings of 0.18 euros. An interim dividend of 0.19 euros has already been distributed, the statement said.

    [24] Greek stocks end sharply lower on Thursday

    Athens, 01/03/2002 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended sharply lower on Thursday hit by news of a new indictment against businessman Socrates Kokkalis on charges of fraud against shareholders.

    Bank shares were particularly hit as investors rushed into massive liquidation of positions in the sector.

    The general index ended 1.98 percent lower at 2,332.89 points, with turnover a moderate Dr 48.3 billion, or 141.7 million euros.

    The Publication, Banks and IT Solutions sector suffered the heaviest percentage losses (3.35 percent, 3.35 percent and 3.26 percent, respectively), while the parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks fell 2.97 percent.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 2.43 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 2.45 percent lower and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 1.40 percent down.

    Piraeus Bank was the biggest loser, ending 7.43 percent lower, followed by Commercial Bank (-7.43 percent), National Bank (-2.12 percent), ETBAbank (-2.5 percent), Eurobank (-2.45 percent) and Alpha Bank (-0.89 percent).

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 300 to 43 with another 17 issues unchanged.

    Bond Market Close: Prices lower in slim trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Thursday finished lower in light trade focusing on 10-year paper.

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

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

    Sell orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.

    Derivatives Market Close: Equity index futures slip, retain premium: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange slipped on Thursday but remained in the black, tracking a downturn in the main market, especially by banks, traders said.

    Turnover was 62.7 million euros.

    The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips shed 2.43 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks lost 2.45 percent.

    [25] Exhibition on Greek culture opens in Berlin

    BERLIN, 01/03/2002 (ANA - P. Stangos)

    Berlin's state museum general director Peter-Klaus Schuster, referring to the exhibition being inaugurated in the German capital on Thursday under the title of "Greek Classic Culture-Idea or Reality", said it is the biggest and most important exhibition, from an archaeological point of view, to be held in Germany on classic antiquity and its significance for the development of culture.

    The inauguration of the exhibition, to be held under the auspices of Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, will be carried out in a "narrow circle" of about 400 guests by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday night.

    The exhibition has about 700 exhibits from 110 museums and five private collections from 90 cities and 15 countries and focuses on the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. which were later termed the classical era.

    It will remain in Berlin until June 2 and will then be moved to Bonn where it will be open from July 12 until October 13 and afterwards, as Venizelos recently said at a press conference, it is also expected to be moved to Athens.

    [26] UN Cyprus envoy hopes pace of peace process will step up

    LARNACA, 01/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    UN Secretary-General's Special Advisor on Cyprus Alvaro De Soto expressed the hope on Thursday that the pace of negotiations for the Cyprus problem can be stepped up and that there will be a spirit of compromise and political determination, as the Security Council has said so that the process can move on.

    Speaking at Larnaca airport on his return from New York De Soto said that he reported to the Secretary General and briefed the Security Council which "continues to strongly support the efforts underway".

    Following the briefing the UN Security Council issued a verbal statement urging Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to approach the resumption of UN talks on Cyprus in a spirit of compromise and political determination and with a sense of urgency so as to narrow the differences between them.

    Asked what message he brings from New York, the UN official noted "the message is what the Security Council has said."

    "I look forward to meeting tomorrow with Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash and to see whether the pace can be stepped up and that we hope that there will be a spirit of compromise political determination as the Security Council has said and that we can move on," de Soto said.

    President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash have been engaged since January 16 in direct talks to reach a settlement of the Cyprus problem. Talks were suspended on February 19, and resume on Friday.

    [27] Javier Solana hopes for positive outcome in Cyprus peace talks

    LARNACA, 01/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Javier Solana, European Union High Representative for foreign and defense policy, has expressed hope that the direct talks on Cyprus, currently underway, will bear fruit.

    Speaking to the press during a brief stopover from Jordan on his way to Brussels, Solana said he would visit Cyprus at some stage in the future in his official capacity.

    "As far as Cyprus is concerned, I hope very much that the negotiations will proceed and they will be positive," he said after a short encounter at Larnaca airport with UN Secretary General's special adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, who had just returned from New York, for Friday's resumption of the peace talks.

    Solana said he hoped for a "good end" to the negotiations.

    President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash are to resume direct talks, under UN auspices, on Friday. They started discussions on 16 January with three weekly meetings. As of tomorrow they are set to be meeting twice a week for longer.

    Replying to questions, he said he will come to visit Cyprus in his official capacity but has no idea when such a visit would take place.

    On the Middle East, he said he visited over the past several days various countries to discuss the Saudi Arabian peace plan.

    [28] EU pleased with the implementation of the acquis in Cyprus

    NICOSIA, 01/03/2002 (CNA/ ANA)

    Cyprus has already done a very good job with regard to the adoption and implementation of the acquis communautaire but there is still work to be done in certain areas, European Union chief negotiator with Cyprus Leopold Maurer, heading a 25-member delegation of the European Commission currently visiting the island, said here on Thursday.

    Maurer noted that as accession negotiations are in their final phase "what is much more important now is the implementation of the acquis and that administrative structures work very well," adding that the Commission will have to present a report - action plan to the EU Seville Summit next June, giving a full oversight of how candidate countries are proceeding with their work on implementation of the acquis.

    "This will be also one of the main elements for our last assessment which we start preparing now and which should be ready in October once we will recommend which countries will be taken up into the EU out of the 10 we have in mind", the EU official said.

    Cyprus chief negotiator with the EU George Vassiliou said the EU officials currently visiting Cyprus examined in detail the process of implementation of the acquis and expressed their satisfaction with the work done so far.

    "There are many fields we have heard that you already did a very good job but there are some fields where we still have to wait that you do the job," Maurer said, adding that "there is a very important framework legislation in the field of free movement of goods where we still have to wait that there is enough material which we can evaluate."

    He noted that during the next months other EU delegations would visit Cyprus "to monitor and review what is going on so that in October we can assess completely what has been done. But in general," he added, "I have to say that what we see is very positive."

    Invited to comment on Turkish threats against Cyprus' accession without a political settlement, Maurer said "we are never entering into polemics" and expressed hope and optimism that Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash would find a solution by the end of June this year.

    Replying to a question Maurer said that EU enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen would meet Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash during his visit here, March 7 and 8.

    Cyprus opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998 and has so far provisionally closed 24 out of 29 chapters of the acquis communautaire.

    [29] Attorney General: radical change of Turkish views needed for progress

    NICOSIA, 01/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Unless there is a radical change in the positions of the Turkish side, there cannot be any progress towards a Cyprus settlement at the ongoing UN-led direct talks, Attorney General Alecos Markides has said, expressing "general disappointment" with the current state of affairs.

    In an interview with CNA on the eve of the resumption of the talks, Markides said that it should become clear by March whether there is any progress, if a June deadline is to be observed with regard to edging closer to a settlement.

    The Attorney General, member of the negotiating team of the Greek Cypriot community, also said that attempts should be made in the weeks ahead to establish whether assertions by the Turkish Cypriot leader to reconsider certain things actually have any validity.

    On European Union role with regard to the UN-led peace effort, Markides said Cyprus' accession course dictates and defines certain principles to which any agreed solution should comply with, including the principle of having one state in Cyprus, which will be in a position to effectively meet its obligations to the Union.

    "There is a general disappointment because there has not been any substantive move in the Turkish policy towards the right direction and the parameters defined by the UN Security Council resolutions," Markides said.

    He said that as long as the Turkish side aims at the creation of "two states" or insists on the existence of "two states", there can be no settlement.

    "The solution of the problem lies in their hands in the sense that if they ask in good faith for a solution in the framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, as agreed, then a solution can be found," Markides stressed.

    Asked on the role of various mediators, he was quite categorical that they have an obligation to act in a way that would promote a solution in line with the parameters of UN resolutions, noting that it is up to them to decide how they should go about doing this.

    On the role of the EU, he said Cyprus' accession course dictates that there must be one state in Cyprus with one voice which should be in a position not only to meet its obligations but also to implement the acquis communautaire.

    Replying to questions, he dismissed Turkish allegations that Cyprus is sitting on its laurels because the EU has promised membership and is lagging behind in its effort to find a settlement.

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