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

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

March 2, 2002


  • [01] Government approves three major arms supply programs
  • [02] Simitis to officially visit Japan next week
  • [03] Gov't considers nat'l policy vis-a-vis 'Euro-force' issue
  • [04] Nothing will derail country's smooth course, PM assures parliament
  • [05] Karamanlis indirectly agrees with opening of all suspect bank accounts
  • [06] Gov't responds to Karamanlis' demand over Kokkalis accounts
  • [07] ND leader addresses party affiliated trade unionists on corruption
  • [08] Weston says Cyprus problem should be solved as soon as possible
  • [09] European Convention to meet again on March 21
  • [10] ND leader meets EPP secretary general in Athens
  • [11] Navy General Staff chief Theodoroulakis resigns
  • [12] New coast guard commander
  • [13] Greek ambassador sends letter of protest to U.S. newspaper
  • [14] U.S. Congress to ratify legislation commemorating Greek Independence Day
  • [15] Greece officially says farewell to drachma
  • [16] EU commissioner urges end to double price registration
  • [17] Gov't studies measures to aid shipbuilding industry
  • [18] Greek unemployment falls to 10 pct in third quarter
  • [19] Greek mutual funds' assets fall in 2001
  • [20] Govít decides to put forward Balkan Reconstruction Plan
  • [21] Tsohatzopoulos visits US to promote tourism, energy
  • [22] EFG Eurobank Ergasias to raise stake in Romanian bank
  • [23] Intracom rejects legal actions, asks for transparency
  • [24] Euroconsultants S.A. to provide local gov't reorganization assistance to FYROM
  • [25] Council of State rules against operation of TVX gold mine
  • [26] Euro-Mediterranean private sector meeting held in Istanbul
  • [27] Purchasing Managers Index rises in February
  • [28] Journalists to stage 24-hour nationwide strike on March 6
  • [29] Greece drafts bill to protect the young from unsuitable video games
  • [30] Greek stocks end week substantially higher
  • [31] ATHOC to call tender for catering companies to serve Olympic Family
  • [32] Magriotis addresses event on "Olympic Spirit" at London's Hellenic Center
  • [33] Athens municipality art exhibition dedicated to Olympic idea
  • [34] Greek EU commissioner stresses need for workplace balance between genders
  • [35] Labor minister presents national action plan on people with special needs
  • [36] Minister praises election of Kiki Dimoula by Athens Academy
  • [37] Cyprus direct talks resume
  • [38] Cyprus Republic takes over SAR operations

  • [01] Government approves three major arms supply programs

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    The Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA) on Friday approved three major arms supply programs, during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou afterward announced that the meeting had approved three important armaments purchases falling within Greece's five-year arms procurement plan. These included an order for 170 LEOPARD 2-A5 tanks made by Germany's Krauss-Maffei, the ASPIS electronic counter-measures system made in the United States and 12 mid-range C 27J transport planes made by a US-Italian consortium comprised of Italy's Alenia and Lockheed Martin.

    The minister said the three programs would account for a large chunk of the total 2001-2006 armaments program but avoided giving a specific figure, saying that this would be decided on during negotiations for the contracts and the agreements for annual payments.

    Unofficial sources estimate the total cost of the three programs announced to be 2.05 billion euros.

    Papantoniou also stressed that the decision was fully in line with earlier government announcements of a decision to reduce and roll back planned arms spending until after the 2004 Olympics.

    To this end, he said, KYSEA had decided to reduce the number of tanks ordered to 170 from original plans for 246.

    With each tank costing approximately 7.5 million euros, this represents a saving of some half million euros.

    Papantoniou said the criteria used in selecting weapons systems were primarily technical, giving first priority to the needs of the armed forces and to fulfilling their requirements.

    A secondary consideration was that of cost, with the cheapest offer among those selected chosen, while a third important consideration was delivery time.

    The defense minister said this final consideration had been important in the selection of the ASPIS electronic counter-measures system, which would begin to be delivered in 2003 along with 60 F-16s that would be incorporated into the specific system.

    He stressed, however, that the system was also better than its competitors with respect to technical and economic considerations as well.

    Regarding the transport plane order, Papantoniou said the air force had decided to make do with slightly fewer than 15 mid-range planes and would put in an order for 12 with the option to buy another three, while the money thus saved would be used to buy two second-hand C-130 transport planes.

    [02] Simitis to officially visit Japan next week

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    The government announced on Friday that Prime Minister Costas Simitis will tour Japan between March 2-8, in what will be the first-ever official visit by a Greek premier to the Far East country.

    Former premier Constantine Mitsotakis had traveled to Japan twice in 1990, the first time to lobby the IOC for the assumption of the 1996 Olympics by Athens, followed by his attendance at the coronation of Japanese Emperor Akihito.

    Greek-Japanese relations date to 1899 with the signing of a friendship, commerce and maritime pact.

    [03] Gov't considers nat'l policy vis-a-vis 'Euro-force' issue

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    Greece's stance vis-a-vis the complicated issues revolving around the European Union's common foreign and defense policy and related EU ties with the six NATO member-states that are not members of the bloc dominated a high-ranking meeting on Friday here chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    Echoing Athens' standing position regarding EU-NATO ties and the regime governing the establishment and operation of a prospective "Euro-force", Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou reiterated that any EU agreement with the six NATO members should ensure that NATO-related problems aren't transferred to the European Union. He also cautioned that the "Euro-force" should not be transformed into a "NATO appendage", while the EU must retain its autonomy in foreign policy and defense sector decision-making based on the provisions agreed to in the Nice Treaty.

    Papantoniou as well as Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who also participated in the meeting, denied that a phone conversation between Simitis and British PM Tony Blair was related to the "Euro-force" issue.

    [04] Nothing will derail country's smooth course, PM assures parliament

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    Nothing will halt the smooth course of the country, the democratic form of government, and the government, prime minister Costas Simitis assured Friday in parliament, responding to a question tabled by main opposition New Democracy (ND) MP and former leader Miltiades Evert regarding the premier's recent charges of efforts at "political aberration".

    "It is our duty to denounce whatever alters the political life and creates hazard to democracy," Simitis said, explaining his stance on the "methodized mudslinging, disdain of the political system, policies, and the questioning of the country's smooth course".

    He intimated that an "effort to create a fascist climate" was being made "because some believe that they can profit from such a climate to win the elections".

    Simitis cited the "unethical" attack against President of the Republic Costis Stephano-poulos, noting the articles that appeared in newspapers that more or less leaned towards ND claiming that the tentacles of illegal gambling touched Stephanopoulos and statements by prominent ND cadres that the country was sinking in corruption, etc.

    Evert charged that the premier had lost his cool and was confused. He said Simitis did not have the courage to say "who are those who seek the overthrow of democracy", and called on the premier to take the initiative of setting up a fact-finding commission in parliament to investigate the issue.

    Speaking at the same parliamentary session, Coalition of the Left and Progress (SYN) leader Nikos Constantopoulos called on the premier to combat special interests and "black political money" with specific measures.

    Protopapas reacts to comments by Evert in Parliament: Commenting on the issues raised by New Democracy MP Miltiades Evert and other members of his party in Parliament earlier on Friday, government spokesman Christos Protopapas slammed the main opposition's style, saying it was using insults to cover its lack of political arguments and proposals.

    ND's tactics were converting its own shortcomings into a shortcoming of the country, Protopapas added, and the government would simply deliver the main opposition to the judgment of the Greek people.

    Regarding early elections, meanwhile, the spokesman noted that ND had repeatedly been answered by the Greek people through the polls.

    "There is no question of early elections. We have work to do, we will stay on until the end of our four-year term to implement our program," he said.

    [05] Karamanlis indirectly agrees with opening of all suspect bank accounts

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis on Friday indirectly agreed to the opening of accounts related to the controversial Mayo Corp during a congress of ND affiliated public sector trade unionists (DAKE).

    Mayo is an off-shore company registered in Sierra Leone that ruling PASOK has repeatedly claimed is linked to the illegal funding of ND, a charge the latter strenuously denies.

    Speaking at the congress, Karamanlis stressed that "all controversial accounts, coming to light during initial investigations conducted by the courts, should be opened. Let plenty of light in, we are not discriminating".

    In response to criticism by Prime Minister Costas Simitis earlier in the day, Karamanlis said that the premier "more or less refused to implement the law which his government ratified."

    "He did not hesitate in telling lies even in Parliament, underestimating the intelligence of the Greek people. The premier spoke of political aberration attempting to hide his enormous responsibilities and once again he appeared to be a spectator," Karamanlis said.

    Karamanlis reiterated his proposals concerning transparency in public life, adding that "our opponents are not persons or businessmen, it is the vested interests no matter what direction they come from and in every form they appear, because this is the greatest threat for the quality of our democracy today".

    [06] Gov't responds to Karamanlis' demand over Kokkalis accounts

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    The government on Friday responded to demands by main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis calling for the opening of bank accounts belonging to Intracom group founder and president Socrates Kokkalis, with the government spokesman saying justice does not need "instigators, recommendations or protectors".

    "It is self-evident that if the justice system requests it then the government will offer its assistance," spokesman Christos Protopapas said.

    Additionally, he denied that the government is exercising a "selective policy" when asked about the opening of accounts related to the controversial Mayo Corp. and allegations of connections with the notorious ex-East German intelligence agency (Stasi). Mayo is an off-shore company registered in Sierra Leone that ruling PASOK has repeatedly claimed is tied to illegal funding of main opposition New Democracy, a charge the latter strenuously disputes.

    "Some circles may dream of (exercising) a selective policy. Our government has defined its relations with the justice system; it leaves the justice system alone to do its job," he said.

    Karamanlis on Thursday said he backs a proposal to open Kokkalis' accounts, after the high-profile Greek telecoms and IT tycoon was slapped with multiple stock market fraud charges and other felony counts last month. The proposal was originally put forth by Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) 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.

    [07] ND leader addresses party affiliated trade unionists on corruption

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis on Friday addressed the 5th Congress of ND affiliated trade unionists in the public sector, focusing his comments on corruption in the public sector.

    He stressed that the trade union movement should be determined and able to "remove the abscess created by the immunity of the establishment and corruption that compromises many in the name of the few".

    He noted that differences in ideologies and political beliefs are not obstacles, adding that cooperation and joint efforts by all are necessary now more than ever.

    Karamanlis called on the trade unionists to appear to other parties as representatives of society and of the workers they represent, adding that it is the trade unionists' obligation to deflect the development of unsavory phenomena in their place of work.

    Speaking on the social security issue, Karamanlis referred to what he termed "actions and omissions" of the government, which defer today's burdens to the next generations.

    He also criticized the state "for not providing services needed by citizens and essentially it does not respond satisfactorily to its mission", while he attributed blame to those who were making or were supposed to make decisions, adding that all have responsibilities and obligations to rid the public sector of its malfunctions and inadequacies.

    [08] Weston says Cyprus problem should be solved as soon as possible

    ISTANBUL, 02/03/2002 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    US special coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston underlined on Friday the international community's impatience for a settlement of the Cyprus question.

    Weston, who met in Ankara with Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Ugur Ziyal, said "the situation is urgent as the Cyprus issue has not been solved for a long time," underlining that "the problem should be solved as soon as possible."

    He said Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash have so far held 14 meetings and are at a positive and productive stage, adding that the U.S. and Turkey are making efforts to support the talks.

    The American diplomat said the U.S. and Turkey have many common interests and rapprochement and termed his meeting with the Turkish official as very positive.

    The U.S. coordinator's observations come at a time when the diplomatic community fears that Denktash is trying to delay by suddenly calling for the need to suspend the talks on grounds that he urgently needs to deal with emergencies concerning his health.

    [09] European Convention to meet again on March 21

    BRUSSELS, 02/03/2002 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    The 105 representatives of European Union member-states and candidate member-states ended the initial session of the European Convention for the future of Europe on Friday and scheduled the next meeting two weeks from now.

    The next meeting of the Convention's presidium will take place on March 14 and that of the general assembly on March 21.

    The representative of Prime Minister Costas Simitis Eurodeputy George Katiforis, speaking to the Greek press, said that the members of the Convention have in their hands a draft of the regulations for its operation, which will be tabled for ratification during the next meeting of the assembly, adding that all amendments will have to be tabled until that time.

    Katiforis noted that the Greek side was studying the ideas that were tabled to date, while noting that some of the Greek ideas regarding common borders the their protection may find fertile ground during the Convention.

    [10] ND leader meets EPP secretary general in Athens

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis on Friday met the secretary general of the European Peoples' Party (EPP) Alejandro Agag at ND party headquarters in Athens to discuss European Union and EPP issues.

    Afterward, Agag said the talks had focused on an EPP initiative to be headed by Karamanlis for the democratization of the western Balkans and for a joint foreign and defense policy.

    The EPP secretary general also announced that an EPP summit meeting is to take place in Greece at the end of the year.

    [11] Navy General Staff chief Theodoroulakis resigns

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    Navy General Staff chief George Theodo-roulakis submitted his resignation to Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Friday night, who accepted it.

    Theodoroulakis' resignation comes in the wake of promotions and retirements of senior Greek Navy officers decided earlier in the day and, according to reports, he resigned after disagreeing with choices made.

    [12] New coast guard commander

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    The government on Friday announced that top coast guard cadre Christos Delimihalis has been chosen as the next commander of the corps, following the retirement of Vice-Adm. Andreas Syrigos.

    [13] Greek ambassador sends letter of protest to U.S. newspaper

    WASHINGTON, 02/03/2002 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    A protest letter by Greek Ambassador to Washington Alexander Philon, who reacted to a second anonymous paid advertisement which was published recently in the Washington Times newspaper accusing Greece of harboring terrorism, was published on Friday in the American newspaper.

    Philon rejected the accusations of the anonymous texts which "with their vulgar and misleading contents accuse Greece of harbo-ring terrorism."

    The ambassador said that these criticisms have been answered responsibly by Greece and senior American officials who have publicly lauded the intense efforts by Greece and its close cooperation with the FBI and Scotland Yard in the struggle for the combatting of terrorism.

    "We have no problem with the publication of criticism by persons whose identity is known or by recognized organizations, but with the decision of your newspaper to publish false and harmful slander by unknown persons who sign sometimes as 'Greek-Americans against Terrorism' and sometimes as 'A Concerned Greek-American'," the Greek ambassador stressed.

    [14] U.S. Congress to ratify legislation commemorating Greek Independence Day

    WASHINGTON, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    The legislation created by the National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH) 17 years ago commemorating Greek Independence Day in the U.S., and passed every year since, is being introduced in the U.S. Senate this week by Senator Arlen Specter, a press release issued by the organization said.

    This year's text highlights Greece's contributions to freedom, democracy, peace and stability as well as to the United States and the Balkans. This resolution formally designates March 25, 2002 as "Greek Independence Day: A National Celebration of Greek and American Democracy."

    In addition to this annual effort, CEH and its national grass roots network have secured more cosponsors on another bill than on any in history, and have secured extraordinary support for and enacted other Cyprus and Greek legislation.

    "This official U.S. celebration of Greek Independence Day has enabled our community, under the leadership of our Archbishop, to accomplish what few others have done. We highlight in a meeting each year with every President of the United States the importance of our national community and the issues of concern to us," said Andrew E. Manatos, President of CEH and the creator of the official Greek Independence Day celebration.

    "Each year, when the numbers have allowed, we have made sure to include the President of AHEPA and other major Hellenic leaders in this meeting. Nearly each year the Archbishop and our group also meets and shares our views with the Congressional leadership and other key U.S. policy-makers," Manatos said.

    [15] Greece officially says farewell to drachma

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    Greece on Friday officially ended the parallel circulation of the drachma with the euro, leaving the single European currency as the only legitimate currency in the country.

    The drachma withdrawal procedure was fairly smooth, the Bank of Greece said in a statement, with approximately 2.7 trillion drachmas, or 90 percent of drachma in circulation by the end of 2001, withdrawn from the market by February 28.

    Drachma was Greece's national currency for the last 169 years, as it was in the past for ancient Athens and other Greek cities. It was issued in 1833 replacing phoenix, the first currency of the Greek state, to mark Greece's modern history both in times of trouble and prosperity.

    The drachma was part of a various monetary systems in the past, such as the Latin Monetary Union, the Gold standard, Bretton Woods' foreign exchange system, the European Monetary System's foreign exchange mechanism - a precondition for participating in EMU.

    The Bank of Greece said it would continue exchanging drachma banknotes for euros for the next 10 years, and drachma coins for the next two years.

    [16] EU commissioner urges end to double price registration

    BRUSSELS, 02/03/2002 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    European Union Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne on Friday appealed to "euro-zone" countries to end the listing prices in euros and previous national currencies as soon as possible.

    Byrne said he believes that the 'euros-only' policy will better familiarize European with the single currency.

    The commissioner also said that the sooner member-states abandon this practice the sooner European citizens will be in a position to assess the real value of a product or a service in euros.

    [17] Gov't studies measures to aid shipbuilding industry

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    The government is studying measures to help the shipbuilding and ship repairs industry, focusing on Piraeus, officials said.

    Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Friday chaired a meeting to discuss a proposal by Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis on the sector.

    Taking part were senior officials of the ministries of finance, labor and development; and from the state social insurance sys-tem.

    Major ship owners' groups welcome gov't measures: The Union of Greek Ship owners and London Shipping Cooperation Committee on Friday welcomed measures by the government to help improve the sector.

    Following a meeting in the UK capital, the two groups said in a joint statement that the government had shown a realistic approach and goodwill towards shipping in lowering tax for ships and seamen, and in the employment of pensioners.

    [18] Greek unemployment falls to 10 pct in third quarter

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    The unemployment rate in Greece fell to 10.0 percent of the country's workforce in the third quarter of 2001 from 10.7 percent in the same quarter in 2000, National Statistics Service said on Friday.

    Unemployment fell more quickly for women in the third quarter (1.4 percentage points compared with a 0.3 percent decline for men). The unemployment rates totalled 14.9 percent and 6.7 percent for women and men, respectively.

    An NSS report said that "the report in the country's workforce seriously underestimated the total number of foreigners because of lack of specific data and the geographic mobility of this group of the population."

    The Attica, Northern Aegean and the Peloponnese were the regions with the biggest percentage drop in the unemployment rate in the July-September period.

    On the other hand, western Macedonia recorded the highest unemployment rate (15.8 percent), followed by central Greece and Evia (13.3 percent), Epirus (11.9 percent), Thessaly (11.6 percent), central Macedonia (10.8 percent) and Attica (10.4 percent).

    Crete (5.7 percent) and the Northern Aegean region (6.0 percent) recorded the lowest unemployment rates in the third quarter.

    [19] Greek mutual funds' assets fall in 2001

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    Ten European countries recorded annual declines in their mutual funds' assets in 2001, with Greece and Italy recording significant declines due to negative conditions in their stock markets, official figures showed on Friday.

    Luxembourg and France, however, managed to balance their assets, while Ireland recorded a big increase in its money mutual funds market assets last year.

    According to figures by FEFSI, published in Greece by the Union of Institutional Investors, the European Mutual Funds' market assets totalled 3.61 trillion euros in 2001 from 3.53 trillion the previous year, an increase of 2.3 percent.

    Greece accounted for 0.74 percent of the European market to take the 14th place among 20 European countries.

    Based on equity mutual funds' assets, Greece has a market share of 0.40 percent in Europe, a 0.61 percent share in bond mutual funds, an 1.17 percent market share in combined mutual funds and an 1.9 percent share in money mutual funds.

    European equity mutual funds saw their assets ease by 10.7 percent last year to 1.37 trillion euros, with their market share fall to 40 percent from 45 percent in 2000.

    Bond mutual funds' assets rose 12.7 percent to 910 billion euros and money market funds' assets increased by 28.2 percent to 515 billion euros.

    European combined mutual funds' assets eased 8.2 percent to 515 billion euros last year.

    [20] Govít decides to put forward Balkan Reconstruction Plan

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    The Greek government on Friday decided to put forward immediately a Balkan Reconstruction Plan.

    The decision was taken during a meeting between Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos.

    "Greece will be present in international developments," Economy and Finance Minister told reporters after the meeting, while Foreign Minister said that the meeting discussed issues related to the strategic targets of the plan and the special role that a Greek financial aid could have in the Balkans.

    The seven-year Balkan Reconstruction Plan totals 528 million euros.

    [21] Tsohatzopoulos visits US to promote tourism, energy

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos has started an official visit to the United States in an effort to promote Greek tourism and to boost Greek-American cooperation in the energy sector.

    During his five-day visit in Florida, Washington and New York, Tsohatzopoulos will meet with his American counterpart, address a seminar in the University of South Florida on the "Significance of Global Hellenism", and meet with members of energy think tanks and tour operators in New York.

    He will be also honored with the American Foundation for Greek Language And Culture award as "Man of the Year".

    [22] EFG Eurobank Ergasias to raise stake in Romanian bank

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias informed the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday that it planned to raise its stake in Banc Post SA of Romania to 36.25 percent from 19.5 percent

    The increase of 113,015,995 shares, which represents 17 percent of Banc Post's share capital, is subject to regulatory approval.

    Banc Post, one of the largest commercial credit institutions in the Balkan country, has a network of 130 branches, total assets of about 365 million US dollars, profits of more than 14 million US dollars, and 4,000 staff.

    The deal is part of a strategy by EFG Eurobank Ergasias, a member of the Latsis shipping, oil and banking group, to expand in the Balkans. It also holds a stake in Bulgaria's Post Bank

    [23] Intracom rejects legal actions, asks for transparency

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    Intracom Group on Friday rejected a series of legal actions against the group, charging its chairman Socratis Kokkalis with fraud, and violations of stock market and fiscal legislation.

    A company issued a statement saying that a detailed inspection by the country's Economic Crimes Squad, held in the period from February to June 2001, through the books of Intracom, Intrasoft and Intralot, have not produced any violations.

    "Intracom Group has created in Greece what we define as cutting-edge technology," the statement noted and urged for the publication of the financial crimes squad's report on the inspections it made in the group's companies.

    "We categorically declare to our shareholders, investors and to everyone concerned, that an official detailed accounting inspection made from February to June 2001 in Intracom, Intrasoft and Intralot cannot produce any violations because: first, there is no violation, and second, money raised from the stock market was distributed to pre-announced investments, or held as reserve capital," the statement said.

    Intracom's statement said there were huge questions over an order to proceed with legal actions against the company, and over the way it was published by the media.

    "Those circles, permanently acting as an invisible company of mud-slingers and underminers of every genuine Greek productive effort, cannot tolerate the fact that the country's large and nationally importance telecommunications and IT sectors are no longer a place for speculative plays between middlemen," it said.

    [24] Euroconsultants S.A. to provide local gov't reorganization assistance to FYROM

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    The northern-Greece based Euroconsultants S.A. (EVRO-SYM-VOULOI) consultancy firm will provide consulting support for the reorganization of the institution of local government and decentralization in FYROM, after winning an international tender organized by the European Commission, it was announced on Friday.

    For the materialization of the consultative two-year project, budgeted at 1.8 million euro, Euroconsultants S.A. will head a consortium also comprising the European Public Administration Institute and the collaborating firm European Profiles.

    Euroconsultants will assign three Greek consultants to FYROM's Local Government Ministry and will also employ a substantial number of international and local experts for the materialization of individual activities, including: -- Reinforcement of the Local Government Ministry in the implementation of this action plan on decentralization and coordination of the inter-ministerial committee that has been set up for the gradual transfer of authorities to the local governments. -- Materialization of pilot programs in municipalities throughout FYROM aimed at actual decentralization and boosting the ability to provide decentralized services. The use of high technology and information society methods are among the pilot interventions envisaged. -- Training of local government officials in the new authorities aimed at the provision of better service to the citizens, and corresponding support for the Union of Municipalities of the neighboring country.

    [25] Council of State rules against operation of TVX gold mine

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    The Council of State, the country's highest administrative court, on Friday ruled against a ministry decision that endorsed the environmental terms of construction and operation of a gold mine in the north belonging to a subsidiary of TVX Gold, a quoted Canadian miner.

    The case was brought by the municipality of Stayira Akanthos, Halkidiki, after years of protests by residents and environmentalists claiming that the operation would damage woodland and water deposits.

    The protests included blockades of access roads to TVX Hellas' operation in Olympiada.

    The court rejected arguments by TVX's management that anticipated benefits would outweigh damage to the environment as a breach of the principle of sustainable development.

    Conversely, it appeared that the damage would outweigh the benefits of introduction of advanced technology for the mining and processing operation; and the benefits of a rise in employment in the area, the court added.

    As a result, the decision by the secretary general of the public works, town planning and environment ministry was illegal and should be invalidated, it said.

    In another twist in the case, the development ministry on February 15 approved a technical study by TVX Gold for its subsidiary to expand mining operations.

    Under the terms of the ministry's approval, TVX must comply with environmental regulations and carry out a separate detailed study on repercussions of the mining operation.

    In addition, an advisory committee of engineers, trade unionists, staff, residents and management is expected to be created to monitor the company's adherence to terms of operation set by the government.

    Seven suits have been tabled with the Council of State by local residents and authorities demanding a reversal of approval granted to the environmental study, blueprints for the plant, a presidential decree allowing the installation of plant, and the opening of access roads.

    The suits claimed that the project would damage the environment and archaeological sites in the area.

    [26] Euro-Mediterranean private sector meeting held in Istanbul

    ISTANBUL, 02/03/2002 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    The 5th Euro-Mediterranean Private Sector Meeting began here on Friday with the participation of politicians, businessmen and members of the private sector from all the Mediterranean countries.

    The meeting was jointly organized by the Turkish Union of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSIAD) and the Union of European Federations of Industrialists and Employers (UNICE).

    Among those taking part in the meeting was a large delegation from the Republic of Cyprus headed by the vice-president of the Cyprus Federation of Employers and Industrialists, Vyronas Kranidiotis, as well as a large delegation from Greece headed by the president of the Association of Greek Industrialists, Lefteris Antonakopoulos.

    [27] Purchasing Managers Index rises in February

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    The Greece Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose to 52.3 points in February, showing a shift towards recovery after terrorist attacks in the US in September last year dampened markets.

    Released on Friday, the seasonally-adjusted monthly index is designed to offer an overview of conditions in the manufacturing sector. Points above 50 denote growth, and below 50 slowdown.

    The monthly index is the outcome of a survey of 300 companies carried out by NTC Research of the United Kingdom working with the Greek Procurements Institute.

    [28] Journalists to stage 24-hour nationwide strike on March 6

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    All the journalist unions in the press and electronic media have declared a joint 24-hour strike on Wednesday, warning that if the stance of employers does not change the struggle will escalate.

    The strike was decided last Wednesday by the Panhellenic Federation of Greek Journalists (POESY) following a meeting it had with the coordinating committees of unions in the press and electronic media.

    The meeting discussed the situation following the negative, as POESY said, stance of employers and of the government during the negotiating stage for the acceptance of the unions' demands.

    Demands include an end to mass dismissals, the signing of a collective labor agreement, satisfactory salaries, better working conditions, an improvement of insurance rights and measures for a free, objective and better quality of information.

    [29] Greece drafts bill to protect the young from unsuitable video games

    BRUSSELS, 02/03/2002 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Greece is drafting legislation on protecting the young from material in video and electronic games that could be psychologically damaging.

    Senior Greek government officials told a meeting of European Union internal market ministers on Friday that the law would allow the state to intervene in cases where the games were deemed unsuitable.

    Representing Greece at the session were Deputy Finance Minister Christos Pachtas and Deputy Development Minister Christos Theodorou.

    The EU ministers adopted a consumer protection resolution that would introduce labels denoting age suitability for entertainment and leisure goods, including video games.

    [30] Greek stocks end week substantially higher

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended the last trading session of the week substantially higher, reflecting strong gains in blue chip stocks, particularly telecoms.

    The general index, after a highly volatile session, ended 1.42 percent higher at 2,366.02 points, with turnover an improved 126.1 million euros.

    The Wholesale, Textiles and Telecommunications sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (2.24 percent, 2.18 percent and 2.17 percent, respectively).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 1.29 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 1.63 percent higher and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index gained 1.83 percent.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 286 to 45 with another 29 issues unchanged.

    The general index ended the week with a net gain of 0.61 percent.

    Equity index futures rise, tracking bourse: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange gained ground on Friday, tracking an upturn in the main market, traders said.

    Turnover was 60.4 million euros.

    The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips rose 1.29 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks increased by 1.63 percent.

    Bond prices higher in moderate trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Friday finished higher in moderate trade focusing on 10-year paper. The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.32 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 33 basis points.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 1.6 billion euros.

    Buy orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.

    [31] ATHOC to call tender for catering companies to serve Olympic Family

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    The Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) will call a tender for the selection of a catering company to undertake huge needs of the athletes and the Olympic family during the Games in Athens.

    The three restaurants to cater to the needs of 24,000 athletes and the Olympic family will prepare 6,000 meals per hour, for a total of 50,000 meals per day and a grand total of two million meals during the entire Games.

    Approximately 100 tons of food will be consumed per day.

    [32] Magriotis addresses event on "Olympic Spirit" at London's Hellenic Center

    LONDON, 02/03/2002 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis on Thursday addressed an event at the Hellenic Center of London on "The Olympic Spirit and Youth Volunteerism".

    After the event, Magriotis watched the performance of Greek traditional music played by the "Scouts of Tradition", a local band, and visited an exhibition of photographs on Greece and Cyprus with works by Thessaloniki University Prof. Kastangelou.

    [33] Athens municipality art exhibition dedicated to Olympic idea

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    An art exhibition entitled "2004 - Seeking the Olympic Idea" is to open at the Athens Municipal Gallery on March 8 and run until May 16.

    The 41 works on show, representing all the various forms of plastic arts, were selected from a total of 261 entries submitted in an Athens municipality competition for this purpose. The municipality now intends to select certain of these to reproduce as silk-screen and lithographic prints, which it will use in an international campaign to promote the Olympic idea.

    [34] Greek EU commissioner stresses need for workplace balance between genders

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    Greek European Union Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou on Friday addressed a two-day event on current European issues organized by the European Network of Greek Women Journalists.

    She stressed that the greater balance between men and women on all levels of the industry of the mass media is a matter of vital importance for the formulation of a stance and attitude of the whole of our society.

    Diamantopoulou's address, which was entitled "The gender stereotypes behind the front pages", also focused on advertisements, which, she said, often degrade women.

    On his part, Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis recognized, what he called, the inequality between men and women in Greece, saying that in order to eliminate discrimination and inequalities against women, a legal framework is not enough, because "the aims are great and important ... the most difficult changes are those that pass through social conscience and become everyday practice".

    Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis addressed the conference on the Greek EU presidency of 2003, noting the important issues Greece will promote.

    He stressed that the success of the presidency depends on good organization, as well as on the subject material of the issues Greece will promote.

    [35] Labor minister presents national action plan on people with special needs

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas presented the main elements of the national action plan on social inclusion on Friday, which is primarily directed at people with special needs.

    Reppas was speaking at a conference on "Disability and Social Exclusion in the European Union", organized by the Panhellenic Federation of Disabled People.

    He said disabled people are at the center of the policy against exclusion and poverty, while admitting that policies applied in the past were inadequate and had the characteristics of charity.

    Reppas also announced that training programs budgeted at one billion drachmas implemented by specialized centers in Athens, Thessaloniki and Larisa over the 2000-2001 period benefited 299 people.

    He further disclosed that in the framework of the reformed law 2643/98 156 disabled people were hired in the public sector in 2000 and 1,220 in the private sector and utilities.

    [36] Minister praises election of Kiki Dimoula by Athens Academy

    Athens, 02/03/2002 (ANA)

    Poet Kiki Dimoula was elected a new literature academic by the Athens Academy on Thursday and became the third woman to gain such status after Galateia Saranti and Angeliki Laiou.

    She said it was an honor which was never among her targets and feels she will attend a university of wisdom and seriousness.

    Dimoula has published nine poetic collections to date. They include "Darkness" (1956), "In Absentia" (1958), "On the Tracks" (1963) and "One Minute Together" (1998).

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Friday "the election of Kiki Dimoula at the Athens Academy constitutes the recognition and victory of genuine poetic expression."

    He said she has the unique ability of transforming man's deeper desperation into something extremely beautiful, adding that "it is her poetic manner which I would call 'loving irony' and which is unique."

    [37] Cyprus direct talks resume

    NICOSIA, 02/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    UN-led direct talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash resumed here on Friday with an aim to find a comprehensive solution to the protracted Cyprus problem.

    The two community leaders accompanied by their advisors met for one and a half hours this morning near the Nicosia airport situated in the UN-controlled buffer zone, in the presence of the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto.

    This was the first meeting of the second round of the UN-sponsored direct talks after a ten-day break, during which the UN envoy flew to New York to report to the Secretary General and brief the 15-member Security Council.

    Clerides and Denktash have agreed to meet twice a week, on Tuesday afternoon and Friday morning.

    A total of 14 meetings were held during the first round of direct talks, which started on 16 January 2002.

    [38] Cyprus Republic takes over SAR operations

    NICOSIA, 02/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The Cyprus Republic took over on Friday search and rescue operations (SAR) within the Nicosia Flight Information-region (FIR).

    This task will be carried out by the Rescue Co-ordination Center, operating under the Ministry of Defense, at Larnaca International Airport.

    The Center will coordinate all flying and floating means, land teams and other services involved in operations aiming to spot and rescue individuals that are in danger after air or shipping accidents on land or sea, within the limits of its operation region.

    The Republic will be able by assuming this task to comply with all its international conventional obligations and to upgrade its state entity by safeguarding its sovereign rights, stemming from international law.

    Since the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960 the official Rescue Co-ordination Center was based at Episcopi within the British sovereign bases.

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