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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-03-06

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

March 6, 2002


  • [01] PM stresses political successes of his visit to Japan
  • [02] Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos meets U.S. President Bush
  • [03] FM speaks on Olympic Truce at Economist Conference
  • [04] Greek and German DMs satisfied with level of cooperation
  • [05] Development minister addresses travel agents, journalists in New York
  • [06] Greece formally proposes central bank chief for ECB vice president
  • [07] New navy chief installed
  • [08] Karamanlis: 'Party state' responsible for widespread corruption
  • [09] ND leader meets Cyprus' Democratic Party leader
  • [10] Turkish PM wants pseudo-state in 2008 soccer tournament; Greek side warns against inserting politics
  • [11] European Parliament approves resolution on 1915 Genocide of Armenians
  • [12] Govít presents social security reform plan
  • [13] Farmers protest in Athens; gov't reaction
  • [14] Kastoria fur trade fair expects increased participation
  • [15] Car sales plunge 20.7 pct in February
  • [16] Two ships hoist Greek flag
  • [17] Athens hosts Euro-Med economic-social summit
  • [18] Datamedia subsidiary in Turkey to acquire client firm
  • [19] Mutual fund assets slump in February
  • [20] Greek stocks end flat on Tuesday
  • [21] Olympic preparations 'turning page', culture minister, IOC official say
  • [22] ATHOC president holds talks with deputy defense minister
  • [23] ATHOC president to depart for Nicosia on Wednesday
  • [24] Travel agents criticize ATHOC over accommodations
  • [25] Strong earthquake jolts Thrace region
  • [26] Second round of Cyprus direct talks continues
  • [27] Government satisfied with final Common-wealth communique
  • [28] Spokesman: we will protest US report approach
  • [29] To all ANA subscribers

  • [01] PM stresses political successes of his visit to Japan

    TOKYO, 06/03/2002 (ANA - V. Mourtis)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis, currently in Tokyo for the first-ever official visit to Japan by a Greek premier, on Tuesday stressed the visit's success in promoting closer bilateral ties between the Far East country and Greece.

    Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, the Greek prime minister said that contacts between the two sides on all levels had so far revealed a marked convergence of views and no notable differences.

    Simitis is scheduled to stay in Japan until Friday for a series of high-level meetings with Japanese officials.

    The Greek premier said the aims of the visit were two-fold, combining both political and economic goals, while he underlined the visit's successes on the political front, such as highlighting Greece's role in the Balkans and the European Union.

    Regarding relations between the EU and Japan, Simitis said he had promised his Japanese counterpart Junichiro Koizumi to press for the resumption of discontinued Japan-EU summit meetings during Greece's EU presidency in 2003.

    The Greek premier also referred to other goals of the Greek EU presidency, particularly that of Cyprus accession to the Community.

    Direct talks between the Cyprus government and the Turkish Cypriot community were scheduled to end within November but this was not definite, Simitis said.

    If the talks ran over the deadline, the Greek presidency would then be in charge of taking them to completion and of the signature of any agreement that arose.

    In either case, he added, the signing of the agreement for the island republic's accession to the EU would take place during the Greek presidency.

    He also reported that there had been absolutely no problem raised regarding Cyprus joining the Community in recent talks with his Luxembourg counterpart and with European Com-mission President Romano Prodi.

    Another important issue that the Greek presidency would be called on to handle would be the debate about the future of the Community, Simitis said.

    The European Convention on the future of Europe that recently began in Brussels was scheduled to end during the Greek presidency, which would then have to make preparations for an intergovernmental conference to decide on the European Constitution. Greece would still play an important role in this, even if a British proposal for a six-month delay between the end of the Convention and the start of the intergovernmental conference were approved, Simitis said.

    Simitis was also asked to comment on the outstanding issue of the European Army, whose use of NATO infrastructure has been blocked by Turkish demands for a say in EU army operations.

    According to the Greek prime minister, the issue at stake was how EU member-states belonging to NATO would cooperate with NATO members that were not in the EU.

    Athens wanted these relations to be compatible with EU autonomy relative to NATO and with the territorial rights of each country and international law, Simitis said.

    Expressing certainty that a way to determine the responsibilities of each side could be found, Simitis said he was prepared to discuss the issue calmly and reasonably for as long as was needed in order for the right solution to be achieved.

    Turning to economic ties between Greece and Japan, Simitis said the visit had highlighted Greece's potential as base in Europe and for investments, as an economically stable country with strong growth.

    He admitted that some obstacles to attracting Japanese business still remained that were chiefly related to Greek bureaucracy and the multiple inspections needed under 3rd Community Support Framework programs.

    Addressing Japanese business people, Simitis stressed that the Greek economy was in the process of major structural reforms, including the market deregulation, and reforms to the social insurance system, tax system and developmental measures.

    All these were priority issues for the government, he stressed, as were continuing the policy of privatizations, reducing bureaucracy and improving public administration.

    Taxes levied on Greek companies had been reduced and were no longer markedly high relative to the rest of Europe, Simitis said. He indirectly ruled out further reductions, however, saying that social policy in Greece also had to be funded from somewhere and that one could not have everything.

    In response to questions, he also conceded the need to speed up the implementation of 3rd CSF programs but said that this was difficult due to the need for triple inspections to ensure the money was being properly spent.

    Regarding Greek exports to Japan, Simitis said these could definitely be increased but warned that high quality products and competitive prices were essential.

    He predicted that bilateral trade relations would focus more on agricultural exports, especially oil. In his meeting with Koizumi, he added, he had agreed to send over two Greek experts to help Japan carry out a plan to plant one million olive trees on a Japanese island.

    Asked about the prospects of a direct air link between Greece and Japan, Simitis ruled out a direct flight by national carrier Olympic Airways at the present time but said Greece would support any private initiative in Greece or Japan.

    Simitis was accompanied on his visit to Japan by Press and Media Minister Christos Protopapas and Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis, as well as by a team of Greek businessmen and bankers.

    [02] Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos meets U.S. President Bush

    WASHINGTON, 06/03/2002 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos met on Tuesday with U.S. President George W. Bush who expressed his satisfaction over the initiative undertaken by Vartholomeos for an inter-religious dialogue.

    During the meeting at the White House, Bush asked to be briefed on the results of the visit by Vartholomeos to Bahrain and Iran while he showed particular interest in the role of Orthodoxy in the world.

    Vartholomeos raised the issue for the reopening of the Halki Theological School and Bush promised he would help in this direction as well as in general in the free action of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

    According to Vartholomeos, Bush stressed that the United States supported the protection of the rights of all minorities in every country, including that of the Greek minority in Istanbul.

    The two also discussed the situation in the Middle East.

    It was the second visit to the Oval Office by Patriarch Vartholomeos, the first being in 1997 when he met Bill Clinton.

    Ecumenical Patriarch meets U.S. Secretary of State: The reopening of the Halki School of Theology was among the main issues discussed between Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell here on Tuesday.

    Vartholomeos briefed Powell on the inter-religious dialogue initiated by the Patriarch and viewed positively by Washington, since it is believed that it supports understanding between religions and peoples and makes more difficult the exploitation of religion as a means to promote terrorism.

    Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America Dimitrios was also present at the meeting, along with a delegation of Greek-American community leaders and Patriarchate benefactors.

    Vartholomeos later said that Powell promised to aid the Patriarch in the case of the theological school as he considers it necessary for the Patriarchate's present and future.

    The two men also discussed the role of Orthodox Christianity in the United States and the need for the protection of religious freedoms and human rights.

    "We discussed the inter-religious dialogue of our era, human rights, religious freedoms and within this framework we discussed the issue of Halki," Vartholomeos said, adding that "he promised to help as much as he can. He believes in the necessity of the School for the present and the future of the Ecumenical Patriarchate".

    "He (Powell) expressed his admiration and great esteem for the activities of the Ecumenical Patriarchate today and said that he greatly respects the presence of the Orthodox Church under the leadership of Archbishop Dimitrios," the Ecumenical Patriarch said.

    The Patriarch also requested from Powell to do all he can to stem the vertical drop in the number of Christians in the Holy Lands, noting that "I pleaded with him to do all he can in his capacity as Secretary (of State) and in general as part of the U.S. administration to stop the further decrease in the number of Christians in the Middle East."

    "I told him that the Christian shrines in the Middle East should not, under any circumstances, end up as museums," he said, stressing that Christianity was born in those lands.

    On his part, Dimitrios said that "the secretary was particularly positive. He listened to me with great interest. He was fully briefed. It was a very fruitful visit".

    Later in the day, Vartholomeos was scheduled to meet U.S. President George W. Bush.

    Earlier in the day Vartholomeos praised Archbishop of America Dimitrios for "restoring unity and peace" in the Orthodox Church of America, during a dinner given in his honor by the Archbishop.

    Upon arriving in Washington earlier on Tuesday, the Ecumenical Patriarch had once again expressed condolences to the victims of the September 11 terror attacks in the US and condemned "these criminal, terrorist actions, especially when they affect innocent civilians unable to defend against them."

    [03] FM speaks on Olympic Truce at Economist Conference

    Athens, 06/03/2002 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou gave a speech on peace and the Olympic Truce at the Economist Conference in Athens on Tuesday night on the issue of the Olympic Games.

    Papandreou spoke of the great importance of the Truce and stressed that it would be a great opportunity for 15 days in 2004, during the Olympic Games, to achieve peace in all the war-torn regions.

    Papandreou expressed the wish for the Olympic flame to pass from regions where there are conflicts, such as the Middle East, and bring even for 15 days peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

    U.S. Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller in his speech recalled the principles of Martin Luther King, as his great grandson Martin Luther King the 3rd was present at the event and signed the proclamation for the Olympic Truce, among the other hundred personalities which have already signed, the first being President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    [04] Greek and German DMs satisfied with level of cooperation

    BERLIN, 06/03/2002 (ANA - P. Stangos)

    Greek Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and his German counterpart Rudolf Scharping appeared satisfied with the level and prospects of cooperation, both at bilateral level and in the framework of the European Union and NATO, following their prolonged talks in Berlin on Tuesday.

    Greece's recent decision to order 170 Leopard 2-A5 tanks apparently played a catalytic role for Germany's positive attitude, without of course committing itself, towards the Greek government's positions on the issue of the so-called "European army."

    The issue dominated the Greek minister's visit to Berlin and, as he announced, it was also discussed during his meeting with NATO

    Secretary General Lord George Robertson on Monday night during a dinner.

    "I told Lord Robertson that Greece will not sign the Ankara document," Papantoniou told Greek reporters.

    Papantoniou also reiterated the same position at a joint press conference with Scharping, stressing the need for changes in the document, primarily in two directions.

    Problems facing NATO's southeastern flank should not be conveyed to the European army on the one hand and, on the other, it should be established that the European army will not depend on NATO when it undertakes activities alone and without using the alliance's installations and infrastructures, he said.

    Referring to the issue, Scharping said implementation of the decision to create a European army constitutes a "common interest", adding that "Greek reservations (concerning the U.S.-British settlement proposal between the EU and NATO) should be discussed in a way avoiding complications in the whole process."

    On the question of whether the Greek-Turkish dispute on the issue can be resolved by 2003, Scharping said the issue constitutes a "focal vital interest" for the implementation of the European security and defense policy and added that he hopes a solution will be found.

    "The sooner the better," he said, expressing "cautious optimism" due to the improvement in Greek-Turkish relations.

    "At European Union level no solution can be found without Greece's consent and at NATO level no decision can be taken without Turkey's consent," he added.

    Speaking to Greek reporters later, Papantoniou said "the German side listened to the Greek positions with great understanding" and underlined the "very warm response" he met with in talks he had in the morning with German Parliament's Defense Affairs Committee President Helmut Wieczorek and the President of the joint Greek-German Parliamentary Group Sigrid Skarpelis-Sperk.

    During his talks with Scharping and the two German parliamentarians, Papantoniou insisted on the importance of Balkan stabilization as being vital for Europe in general and advocated the incorporation of countries in the region in Euro-Atlantic institutions.

    On the question of Cyprus, Papantoniou said "I reiterated Europe's known position that the Republic of Cyprus will join the EU and regardless of whether or not a political solution is found. And on Greek-Turkish relations I noted the beginning of dialogue, of consultations at service level and I noted the improvement in the climate ascertained over the past two years, but I added of course that Turkey's distances from the positions of international law remain very big."

    The Greek government's decision to order the 170 German Leopard tanks (coming in the wake of an order for three ultra-modern submarines with the HDW shipyards in Kiel last February) was hailed by Scharping as a considerable contribution to maintaining not only the German but the European industrial base of the armaments sector as well.

    Cooperation in the armaments sector was also discussed in a meeting between Papantoniou and the President of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) Manfred Bischoff in the morning.

    Interview: In an interview published in Tuesday's edition of the newspaper Berliner Zeitung, Papantoniou underlined the need for the European Union to secure the possibility of autonomous military action from NATO and explained the reasons for which the Greek government is not prepared to accept Turkey's demand which, without being an EU member, wants the possibility of the European army's activation in sensitive regions in the Aegean and Cyprus to depend on its approval, by using the veto it possesses as a NATO member.

    According to Papantoniou, Turkey is applying an extortionate tactic on the issue to promote its accession to the EU.

    "The cohesion and reliability of the European army would weaken if the introduction of problems between Greece and Turkey in its ranks would be allowed," Papantoniou said.

    He added it is self-evident that the EU's autonomy should be safeguarded in taking decisions on the European army's activation, particularly in cases when access to NATO's structures and infrastructure is not necessary.

    "It is inconceivable why the EU should request the opinion of countries which are not EU members in such cases. Such a thing would be contrary to the spirit and letter of the Nice summit and we could not accept it," he said.

    In his interview, Papantoniou expressed open support for strengthening the EU's policy and defense identity and stressed the need for increasing relevant expenditures.

    "For as long as the EU does not provide more resources for defense and does not strengthen its military forces in a way enabling it to withstand comparison with the United States, I cannot see how it will succeed in acquiring a considerable opinion," Papantoniou said, aligning himself in a certain way with Lord Robertson who had expressed a similar position in Berlin on Monday, touching a very sensitive aspect of German policy.

    [05] Development minister addresses travel agents, journalists in New York

    NEW YORK, 06/03/2002 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Monday night addressed an event organized by the Greek National Tourism Organizations (EOT) office in New York for travel agents, journalists and Greek expatriates.

    ''We are in an interesting historical conjuncture. Developments around the world have left their mark. We have entered the 21st century which is imposing great changes all over the world, changes in Europe, changes in the Eurasian area, changes even in the United States of America, changes that are affected by the tragic events of Sept. 11, which left their indelible mark on all the world,'' Tsohatzopoulos said.

    ''Greece along with other European countries stood by the U.S. in confronting international terrorism, creating a new front to confront terrorism,'' the Greek minister noted.

    ''In parallel, however, with the response the international community should give to international terrorism, it is our obligation to contribute to create international economic and social development,'' Tsohatzopoulos stressed.

    'We have the obligation, in the era of the globalized economy and of the technological revolution to find new answers, which will lead to higher rates of economic and social development for all peoples,'' he concluded.

    [06] Greece formally proposes central bank chief for ECB vice president

    BRUSSELS, 06/03/2002 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Greece on Tuesday formally proposed its central bank chief as a candidate for vice president of the European Central Bank (ECB).

    Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis told reporters in the Belgian capital that Lucas Papademos, governor of the Bank of Greece, was a banker of international caliber, who had successfully handled changes required for Greece's eurozone application and entry.

    ''His candidacy also symbolizes the ability of Greece to seek high-ranking posts, with a major chance of success,'' said Christodoulakis after a meeting of European Union finance ministers at which he proposed Papademos.

    The central bank chief, a member of the ECB's governing council, is favored in central banking circles for the post of vice president when Christian Noyer steps down in May.

    A shortlist of candidates is being drawn up ahead of an EU summit in Barcelona on March 15-16. The succession may also be discussed at an informal EU finance ministers' meeting in April, also to be held in Spain.

    [07] New navy chief installed

    Athens, 06/03/2002 (ANA)

    A ceremony handing over the reins of the navy general staff was held on Tuesday, days after a high-profile dispute between the outgoing Navy chief, Vice-Adm. George Theodoroulakis, and Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou erupted over the issue of top officers' promotions.

    Theodoroulakis tendered his resignation on Friday evening, with the government promptly appointing Vice-Adm. Antonis Antoniadis -- up until last week the fleet commander -- in the former's place.

    In a brief address, the out-going navy chief called on his officers to act always on the basis of meritocracy, justice and high ethical standards.

    "Always remember that you can live without the authority, but you cannot live without principles and ideals," he stressed.

    On his part, new chief of the navy's general staff (YEN) thanked the government for what he called the trust in his person, while adding that the armed forces are called upon to overcome past weaknesses as well as to adapt to new military doctrines and strategies.

    He also praised his predecessor's contributions to the Hellenic Navy.

    [08] Karamanlis: 'Party state' responsible for widespread corruption

    Athens, 06/03/2002 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday charged that an "overwhelming factiousness" is responsible for the "collapse of the state" and an increase in corruption, as he claimed.

    Karamanlis, who spoke to a meeting of the party's sector coordinators, also charged that "those who have governed for the past 20 years have the sole responsibility for the public sector's image, whereas even today the prime minister and the government have not been taught anything from their mistakes".

    He cited what he referred to as unacceptable images at tax bureaus, building permit agencies and other public sector offices.

    Karamanlis also touched on last week's resignation by the navy chief of staff and accused Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou of personally interfering in the recent armed forces promotions.

    Responding to Karamanlis from Germany, where he is conducting an official visit, Papantoniou accused him of ''undemocratic beliefs''.

    ''It is sad. Twenty-eight years after the end of the dictatorship in Greece there are political parties in our country that adopt undemocratic beliefs. New Democracy cannot forget its old self. In an democracy, according with the Constitution and the laws in force, the final responsibility for the composition of the armed forces leadership belongs to the democratically elected government,'' Papantoniou said.

    [09] ND leader meets Cyprus' Democratic Party leader

    Athens, 06/03/2002 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis met in Athens on Tuesday with Greek Cypriot Democratic Party (DIKO) leader and President of the Cyprus House of Representatives' European Affairs Committee, Tassos Papadopoulos.

    Discussed at the meeting was Cyprus' EU accession course and the ongoing direct talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    According to an ND announcement, Karamanlis "yet again expressed his party's position for Cyprus' accession to the EU in the first group of candidate countries, an objective which can and should be achieved during Greece's EU rotating presidency in the first half of 2003".

    Karamanlis also stressed that a solution to the Cyprus issue can be based only on UN decisions and resolutions and the European acquis communautaire. He further noted that Cypriot citizens should enjoy the same rights as all the other Europeans.

    [10] Turkish PM wants pseudo-state in 2008 soccer tournament; Greek side warns against inserting politics

    Athens, 06/03/2002 (ANA)

    The president of Greece's football federation (EPO) cautioned on Tuesday that any attempt by Ankara to exploit a joint Greek-Turkish candidacy for the 2008 European soccer championships will result in the endeavor's immediate termination.

    EPO president Vassilis Gagatsis made the statement after press reports circulated in Athens on Tuesday of the previous day's demand by Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, namely, that the so-called "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" should be allowed to compete in the Euro 2008 tournament.

    "The bid by EPO and the Turkish federation to host the championship was and is based on a political agreement calling for the complete abstention by both sides of any reference to problems that exist between the two countries, as well as the promotion of messages emphasizing peace, understanding and cooperation ..." a press release by EPO president read.

    Gagatsis, who added that EPO's cooperation with its Turkish counterpart is excellent, cautioned that any attempt to turn the joint candidacy into a "battlefield of impressions" or a "preferential venue to air outrageous demands" will lead immediately to EPO's withdrawal from the joint bid.

    Ecevit demand: An earlier ANA dispatch from Istanbul cited local press reports as outlining Turkish PM Ecevit demand on Monday that the pseudo-state in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus participate in the 2008 tournament.

    The issue apparently surfaced in the neighboring country after Turkish Minister of State Fikret Unlu, who holds the sports portfolio, asked the Turkish cabinet's approval for the joint bid, a condition set by the European soccer body, UEFA.

    According to the Turkish daily "Milliyet", Ecevit personally brought up the issue of the pseudo-state's participation, before claiming that "Greece is superseding the 'Turkish republic of northern Cyprus'..."

    The so-called 'Turkish republic of northern Cyprus' was illegally declared in 1983 in areas of the east Mediterranean island republic occupied by the Turkish military since an invasion in 1974. Only Turkey, the occupying power, recognizes the pseudo-state.

    Conversely, Unlu said the Euro 2008's joint hosting was tabled with the support of Turkey's foreign ministry, whereas there is not a chance for the pseudo-state to participate, as it is excluded from every international competition and doesn't even hold an UEFA membership.

    [11] European Parliament approves resolution on 1915 Genocide of Armenians

    Athens, 06/03/2002 (ANA)

    The National Armenian Committee of Greece on Tuesday expressed its deep satisfaction for the resolution published by the plenum of the European Parliament last Thursday, which called on Turkey to recognize the 1915 Genocide of Armenians.

    With 391 votes in favor, 96 against and 15 abstentions the resolution ratified a report of Swedish Eurodeputy Per Gardon, entitled ''EU relations with the countries of the Southern Caucasus'', as well as a resolution concerning the EU strategy toward Armenia, George and Azerbaijan.

    [12] Govt presents social security reform plan

    Athens, 06/03/2002 (ANA)

    Labor and Social Security Minister Dimitris Reppas on Tuesday presented to trade unions the government's plans for the reform of the country's social security system.

    The reform plan was aiming to create a 'unified social security system" with unified rules and regulations that "will not overturn the certainty and confidence of its members."

    Trade unions reacted positively to the government's main position on the issue during the first meeting of a dialogue procedure that started on Tuesday.

    Labor Minister said the plan envisaged "equal opportunities and rights" for all people in the social security system, with a retirement age set at 65 years for all workers that would have not have established pension rights by January 1, 2008. The plan excluded working mothers.

    On the issue of funding of the system, "the government adopts a political position that reforming the system will need a tri-party funding (state, employers and workers)."

    Reppas pledged to "ensure minimum pensions at current levels." This marks a turn in government policy as around 70 percent of pensioners in the Social Security Fund were paid with minimum pension.

    The government refrained from proposing that private insurance companies taking the role of offering additional security coverage to workers.

    GSEE, the country's largest trade union umbrella, said the first meeting was a "good start", while ADEDY, civil servants' union, said there was still a "gray zone" between the government and trade unions that needed to be clarified and demanded that the minimum retirement age for civil servants should be set at 55 years.

    The reform plan excluded farmers, the military and police, self-employed and workers in the media.

    Communist Party of Greece slams gov't over social insurance: The Communist Party of Greece on Tuesday sharply criticized the government over the start of talks on an overhaul for the social insurance system, saying the outcome was rigged.

    ''This so-called social dialogue, which has been conducted behind the backs of workers for the past year, is rigged. Its purpose is to promote anti-worker policy through the General Confederation of Workers of Greece and ADEDY (civil servants' union)," the party said in a statement.

    [13] Farmers protest in Athens; gov't reaction

    Athens, 06/03/2002 (ANA)

    Roughly 5,000 farmers from Thessaly and northern Greece protested in central Athens on Tuesday morning, mainly over better and more expanded crop subsidies, with minor scuffles breaking out when police blocked them from reaching the prime minister's office.

    In statements afterwards, their representatives said they are waiting on the government to reschedule a new meeting between them and Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    "Everyone knows how the government has dealt with the farm sector issue, how much it has tried to exploit all the margins for a solution," acting government spokesman Telemachos Chytiris said on Tuesday, while charging that Tuesday's rally was politically inspired and organized by the main opposition New Democracy party.

    Along those lines, some 50 ND deputies attended the farmers' rally - in front of the Panathenian stadium and Parliament - while farm unionists affiliated with the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) stayed away from the demonstration, instead scheduling a rally on Wednesday in the central town of Karditsa.

    ND spokesman: In a later reaction, ND party spokesman Theodoris Roussopoulos charged that the problems in the Greek farm sector are significant, "all emanating from the lack of an organized agriculture policy by those that govern for the past 20 years."

    [14] Kastoria fur trade fair expects increased participation

    Athens, 06/03/2002 (ANA)

    Organizers of an international fur trade fair in Kastoria, northern Greece, to be held April 12-15, are expecting increased participation in this year's fair, despite a slowdown in the sector in recent months.

    The Union of Kastoria Furriers "Profitis Elias" said that already 60 exhibitors have showed interest in participating in the 27th International Fur Trade Fair, with organizers predicting that the final figure of exhibitors would surpass 65, exceeding last year's figure of 58 exhibitors.

    Exhibitors include companies from Italy, France, Spain and the US.

    [15] Car sales plunge 20.7 pct in February

    Athens, 06/03/2002 (ANA)

    Car sales dropped 20.7 percent in February in the Greek market, justifying analysts predictions of a slowdown in sales because of an upset in the domestic market over prospects of reduced car prices.

    Greek consumers were reluctant to buy new cars awaiting news over developments in the EU market, following proposals by the European Commission aimed to deregulate the European car market, submitted last month.

    Car sales totalled 21,403 in February, down from 27,021 in January, or 6.0 percent lower from the same month in 2000.

    French carmaker Peugeot led the list of top sellers with 2,216, followed by Hyundai (2,151), and Toyota (1,812).

    Fiat (1,576), Citroen (1,569) and Opel (1,559) followed in the fourth, fifth and sixth place, respectively.

    [16] Two ships hoist Greek flag

    Athens, 06/03/2002 (ANA)

    The 30,694 grt tanker ''Demos'', of the company Avinoil Trader Shipping Company, operated by Avin International S.A. of George and Vardis Vardinoyannis, hoisted the Greek flag on Tuesday.

    The 36,573 grt cargo-ship ''North King'', of the company Veneta Enterprises S.A., operated by Kassian Maritime Navigation Agency Ltd. of Marietta Papadaki and Panayotis Kourousopou-los, also hoisted the Greek flag.

    In both cases, Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis expressed his gratitude.

    [17] Athens hosts Euro-Med economic-social summit

    Athens, 06/03/2002 (ANA)

    Athens will host a EuroMediterranean Summit of Economic and Social Councils, March 6-7.

    The summit, including representatives from 27 countries, is being held regularly following the Euro-Mediterranean Conference held in Barcelona, November 27-28 1995, in an effort to bring closer EU states with Mediterranean countries.

    The Athens 2002 summit's agenda includes, discussion on global trade and social development, and the external debt of southern Mediterranean countries.

    The summit is held ahead of the 5th Euro-Med Conference of foreign ministers in Barcelona.

    [18] Datamedia subsidiary in Turkey to acquire client firm

    Athens, 06/03/2002 (ANA)

    A Turkish subsidiary of Datamedia, which is quoted on the Athens Stock Exchange, is to merge with a client firm in the neighboring country, the Greek company said in a statement on Tuesday.

    Porcan Bilgisayar AS is to merge with Barkod AS, a major customer since 1992, which is to be absorbed by Porcan, the statement said.

    This is believed to be the first merger of its kind in Turkey with two firms merging between whom there was no existing ownership link. Mergers so far have been effected within members of the same group, the statement said.

    The firm to be created from the merger will handle integrated solutions for laptop computers, document management, CRM and specialized hardware, like its Greek parent, it added.

    [19] Mutual fund assets slump in February

    Athens, 06/03/2002 (ANA)

    Total assets of Greek mutual funds were 24.42 billion euros on February 28, down 4.68 percent from 25.62 billion euros at the end of January, the Union of Institutional Investors said in a monthly report released on Tuesday.

    The union attributed the decline mainly to outflows from money market and domestic composite funds, and also domestic equity funds, the report said.

    [20] Greek stocks end flat on Tuesday

    Athens, 06/03/2002 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended Tuesday's session flat in nervous trade as investors seemed reluctant to push the Athens Stock Exchange higher despite a positive climate in international markets.

    The general index ended 0.02 percent up at 2,419.99 points, with turnover a low 102.8 million euros.

    The Textile, Insurance and Publication sectors recorded the heaviest percentage losses (0.86 percent, 0.83 percent and 0.79 percent, respectively), while the Retail and Telecoms sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (1.85 percent and 0.72 percent).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.07 percent lower, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 0.20 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index fell 0.43 percent.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 209 to 94 with another 56 issues unchanged.

    Equity index futures slip, hold premium: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange nosed down on Tuesday, tracking the main market despite a slight rise at the close. Blue chip futures managed to retain a premium of up to 50 percent, traders said.

    Turnover was 43.1 million euros.

    The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips shed 0.07 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks dropped by 0.20 percent.

    Bond prices lower in brisk trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Tuesday finished down in heavy trade focusing on 20-year paper.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.44 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 32 basis points.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 2.3 billion euros.

    Sell orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.

    [21] Olympic preparations 'turning page', culture minister, IOC official say

    Athens, 06/03/2002 (ANA)

    Culture minister Evangelos Venizelos met Tuesday with visiting chairman of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Coordinating Committee Denis Oswald, on the sidelines of an Economist conference taking place at a central Athens hotel.

    After the meeting, Venizelos told reporters that the preparations for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens were "turning a page", passing from the projects to operational issues concerning the Games and their organization, and announced that a new Olympics bill was being drafted for those issues.

    Venizelos said that the new Olympics bill to be introduced by the government would concern regulations solving the problems related to the Games volunteers, and chiefly the working volunteers, while it would also provide traffic circulation arrangements.

    "For 15 days in August of 2004, we must forget our cars," the minister said.

    The bill will further contain regulations concerning the short-term rental of private dwellings (planning, tax exemptions, etc.), which concerns thousands of Athenians given that more than 15,000 residences will be needed in August 2004 to accommodate visitors for the Games.

    Venizelos said the bill will help the Athens 2004 organizing committee (ATHOC), whose chairperson, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, will present her suggestions at the next few meetings of the relevant inter-ministerial committee.

    Oswald, in turn, appeared optimistic on the progress in the Olympics preparations, although he expressed some concern over the time factor and in the areas of accommodation and transportation.

    The IOC official concurred with Venizelos that Greece's Olympics preparations were changing page, entering the operational aspect of the Games' organization.

    Oswald said the time factor was a big problem, and that the IOC placed emphasis on the timetables, "but we are confident that Greece, with much work, will fulfill its obligations".

    He said he also discussed with Venizelos the next inspection visit of the IOC Coordinating Committee to Athens, which he said will focus on operational issues.

    Replying to questions, Oswald said that only Greece could organize "monumental Games" due to its history.

    Greece to organize ''monumental Olympic Games'', culture minister says: "We will organize monumental Olympic Games in 2004," Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Monday during the Economist's conference taking place at a central Athens hotel

    He also reiterated that Greece will be absolutely punctual with all that it has agreed with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

    Venizelos said that a fifth Olympics bill will be introduced by the government to regulate problems related to the Games volunteers, and primarily the working volunteers, while it would also provide traffic circulation arrangements.

    [22] ATHOC president holds talks with deputy defense minister

    Athens, 06/03/2002 (ANA)

    Athens 2004 Olympic Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki met with Defense Deputy Minister Lazaros Lotidis at ATHOC's headquarters on Tuesday.

    The meeting was within the framework of the contacts, which Angelopoulos-Daskalaki is having with ministers involved in preparations for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

    During the meeting, issues were examined concerning the better preparation and security of the Olympiad as the armed forces will play a decisive role in the success of the Games.

    The ATHOC president will meet Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Wednesday and it is expected that they will discuss, among other things, energy and telecommunications matters.

    [23] ATHOC president to depart for Nicosia on Wednesday

    Athens, 06/03/2002 (ANA)

    Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki will depart for Nicosia, Cyprus on Wednesday to brief the Cyprus government on the course of the preparations for the Games and to promote the volunteerism program.

    On Thursday, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki will address an event on volunteerism, where she will invite Cypriots to participate en mass in the volunteerism program, since ATHOC looks forward to the participation of Cypriots.

    According to reports from Nicosia, ATHOC, in cooperation with the Cyprus Olympic Committee, has established and operates an ''Athens 2004'' coordination office.

    [24] Travel agents criticize ATHOC over accommodations

    Athens, 06/03/2002 (ANA)

    The Federation of Tourism and Travel Bureaus in Greece (HATTA) on Tuesday blasted what it called attempts to bypass its members for the lucrative leasing of accommodations in the greater Athens area for the 2004 Games.

    HATTA's leadership also vehemently criticized the Athens 2004 organizers (ATHOC), while reiterating that travel agencies in Greece are exclusively responsible for booking rooms while warning against what it calls the "exploitation from uncontrolled real estate agencies".

    In taking a swipe against ATHOC, HATTA charged that problems in the hospitality sector are due to "serious inactivity and, at best, inexperience".

    The federation also claims that no serious efforts at promoting the 2004 Games has commenced and that "no provision has been made for spectators' accommodations".

    According to HATTA's figures, available beds within a 175-kilometre radius of central Athens total 40,000, many of which it says are of "low quality" or completely "inadequate". Moreover, HATTA said a conservative estimate of 150,000 beds is needed during "peak periods" during the holding of the Games.

    Much of the hotel space in the greater Athens area will be reserved for members of the so-called "Olympic Family", which includes national Olympic committees' delegates, sports federa-tions' cadres, sponsors etc.

    [25] Strong earthquake jolts Thrace region

    Athens, 06/03/2002 (ANA)

    A strong earthquake jolted the Thrace region in northeastern Greece, causing some panic, but no damage or injuries were immediately reported.

    According to the Athens National Observatory's Geodynamic Institute and Thessaloniki Aristotelion University's Geophysics Laboratory, an earthquake measuring 4.8 on the open-ended Richter scale was recorded at 7:23 a.m. at a distance of 340 kilometers northeast of Athens, with its epicenter in the sea region between the island of Samothrace and Alexandroupoli, 45 kilometers southwest of Alexandroupoli.

    The trembler was felt in southern Evros, on Samothrace, in Rhodopi and on Thassos.

    [26] Second round of Cyprus direct talks continues

    NICOSIA, 06/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)

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

    The two community leaders accompanied by their advisors met for one hour and fifteen minutes on Tuesday afternoon 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.

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

    This was the second 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.

    [27] Government satisfied with final Common-wealth communique

    NICOSIA, 06/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The Cyprus government expressed satisfaction with the reference on Cyprus in the final communique of the 2002 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which wrapped up in Australia on Tuesday.

    Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said that the government was especially satisfied with the fact that Commonwealth leaders had said that the solution of the Cyprus problem should be based on UN relevant resolutions and should secure the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of a reunited Cyprus.

    Papapetrou said that these references should be evaluated in the light of the ongoing peace talks on Cyprus that began January 16, 2002. ''Consequently outlining the framework on which negotiations and the solution of the Cyprus problem must be based is very significant,'' the Spokesman added.

    In their communique Commonwealth Heads of Government noted that progress could only be made at the negotiating table and encouraged all concerned to co-operate fully with the Secretary-General and his Special Adviser to show flexibility and negotiate to the conclusion of a just and lasting settlement consistent with relevant Security Council resolutions.

    [28] Spokesman: we will protest US report approach

    NICOSIA, 06/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The government will protest to Washington the approach it has adopted in its 2001 human rights report on Cyprus, which places the legal government of the Republic on an equal par with the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in the island's northern Turkish occupied areas.

    According to the government, the State Department report has ''many inaccuracies'' which will be pointed out to avoid their repetition.

    ''The content of the report is of a political nature, coming from the State Department which is not a specialized mechanism on human rights issues but a body which applies US foreign policy,'' government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said here on Tues-day, commenting on the report.

    In this respect, he said, the report ''adopts to a great extent the approach of maintaining an equal distance, something we do not agree with and for which we shall make demarches to the US government.''

    The spokesman also said that the report is based on the reasoning which previous reports had followed and continues to adopt observations which the government of the Republic had made in the past.

    ''The report, like previous reports, includes several inaccuracies which we shall point out to the US, as we have done in the past, to avoid repeating them,'' the spokesman said, noting that the general conclusion is that human rights situation in the government controlled part of the Republic is satisfactory.

    Papapetrou said at this stage the report is being studied in depth to assess the points made.

    In his statement on the report, the spokesman noted various points made regarding the political situation on the island.

    He referred specifically to the non-recognition by the US or any other state of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime and the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in a case brought by Cyprus against Turkey, in which Ankara was found guilty of human rights violations as a result of its invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

    The spokesman also referred to the reference in the report that the Court considers the Turkish Cypriot regime ''subordinate local administration of Turkey operating in northern Cyprus''.

    On this point, Papapetrou said that ''there is no reference to the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council which regard null and void the declaration of independence of the 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus'.''

    The report said democratic principles generally are respected in both the government controlled areas of Cyprus and in the Turkish Cypriot community.

    Throughout the 25-page report, the State Department outlines its assessment of the situation of human rights on the island, with references to the government controlled part of Cyprus and the occupied northern areas.

    [29] To all ANA subscribers

    The Panhellenic Federation of Journalists Unions (POESY) has called a 24-hour nationwide strike in all the mass media in Greece beginning at 6:00 a.m. Wednesday and running through 6:00 a.m. Thursday.

    Due to the strike, which also affects Athens News Agency (ANA) staff, no news services will be dispatched by the ANA for the duration, while a security staff will be on stand-by in the event of urgent news.

    We ask our subscribers for their understanding for any problems that may arise.

    The ANA news services will resume normally as of 6:00 a.m. Thursday.

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